Erosion on Lake Michigan due to climate change. Image via Shutterstock.
Erosion on Lake Michigan due to climate change. Image via Shutterstock.

Ryan Kelley continued with a call for the US to become fully self-sufficient in fossil fuel production. He claimed that climate change is completely fake—an idea which has been extensively disproven. 


Need to Know

  • GOP gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley said in a radio interview last month that the climate crisis isn’t real and that the US needs to become fully self-sufficient in fossil fuel production.
  • Kelley regularly spreads disinformation about the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, and wants to make it harder to vote in Michigan.
  • In 2021, Kelley organized a rally against Gov. Whitmer’s COVID policies that ended with armed protesters entering the state Capitol.

MICHIGAN—During a radio interview in March, Michigan gubernatorial candidate Ryan Kelley, who regularly promotes conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election, added climate change denial to the list of his baseless stances.

“Look, climate change is a hoax,” Kelley said to News Radio WOOD’s Justin Barclay. “The Green New Deal is just a way for these elitists to spend billions and trillions of dollars chasing a boogeyman that they created.” 

The climate crisis is very much real. A major United Nations panel report released recently found that without “immediate” action slashing pollution from coal, oil, and natural gas, limiting global warming to avoid an unlivable future “is beyond reach.” The Green New Deal is a US congressional resolution that offers a wide-ranging plan to tackle the crisis. 

Kelley, a former planning coordinator for Allendale Township, made this remark during a discussion of rising gas prices across the US. The Republican blamed incumbent Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for not removing Michigan’s gas tax.

“It’s an election year, so she’s trying to scramble to do everything she can to fix roads, patching potholes,” Kelley said on the radio show. “She knows if she removes that gas tax, that’s going to be limiting the amount of money that goes into the construction fund for the roads.”

Since this interview aired, Whitmer has stated that she intends to veto any bill which removes the gas tax, invoking the ire of several Michigan Republicans. However, she has supported a “short term pause” on sales tax for motor fuels. Additionally, as Barclay mentioned, Whitmer has asked Congress to cut the federal gas tax. 

“While I am open to negotiating on alternative proposals, I will not support legislation that jeopardizes road repairs, construction jobs, or funding for local schools,” Whitmer said in a press release.

Kelley continued with a call for the US to become fully self-sufficient in fossil fuel production. He claimed that climate change is completely fake—an idea which has been extensively disproven. 

Kelley, who’s probably best known for organizing a rally last year against Whitmer’s COVID policies that ended with armed protesters entering the Michigan Capitol, has also spread misinformation about COVID-19 and the 2020 election.

His gubernatorial platform includes plans to remove ballot drop-off boxes and same-day voter registration from Michigan elections, despite no evidence of significant fraud in Michigan or nationally.

At a campaign event in January, Kelley even encouraged Republican voters to tamper with voting machines: “If you see something happening you don’t like happening with the machines, if you see something going on, unplug it from the wall. Take control of the narrative.”

READ MORE: Republican Candidates in Michigan Tell Voters to ‘Show up Armed’ to Polls and Tamper With Voting Machines

Kelley’s platform also includes “medical freedom,” which entails banning mask and vaccine mandates. During an appearance at a Michigan “Stop the Steal” rally in November 2020, Kelley said, “COVID-19 was made so that they can use the propaganda to control your minds so that you think, if you watch the media, that Joe Biden won this election. It’s like a TV show, y’all. They’re parading this clown around, pretending he’s the president-elect … We’re not going to let the Democrats steal this election.”

A report from the Republican-led Oversight Committee in the Michigan state Senate rejected the claim that the election was fraudulent. 

In early 2021, Kelley attended the rally that led to the Jan. 6 Insurrection, where he was filmed waving for others to follow him towards the US Capitol. He later said that he never entered the Capitol itself and left “once things started getting crazy.”

Kelley is competing against a crowded field in the GOP primary. On Wednesday, he became the fifth Republican to file petition signatures to run for governor. Whoever wins the Aug. 2 primary will go on to challenge Whitmer in November.

He has received an endorsement from Debra Ell, a right-wing activist in Michigan. Kelley has yet to receive any higher profile endorsements, though he appeared at a Trump fundraiser last month at Mar-a-Lago and appears to be angling for the former president’s endorsement. 

Kelley’s campaign did not respond to a message requesting comment.