Rewind to December 2006:Â Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty announced his Next Generation Energy Initiative, which included the “development of a comprehensive plan to reduce Minnesota’s emissions of greenhouse gas emissions (GGE).”Â He established the Minnesota Climate Change Advisory Group (MCCAG), a group ofÂ community leaders, to assist him in the development of state-level GGE public policy recommendations.
The GovernorÂ also hired Center for Climate Strategies (CCS), a consultantÂ to manage MCCAG and the overall process.Â CCS’s estimated cost for the year-long project is $410,0000 (see page 12 of the MCCAG Action Plan). But the state is offered a sweetheart deal.Â CCS had access to financial grants through its affiliate,Â Enterprising Environment Solutions, Inc., helping to lower the total price of its services to $40,000, less than 10% ofÂ the actual cost.
A shrewd business personÂ might have asked, “What’s the catch?”Â But this question was apparently neverÂ asked as the state proceeded to complete a grant contract with EESI.Â A little due diligence would have revealed that CCS is actually the work of aÂ left-wing environmental advocacyÂ group called The Pennsylvania Environmental Council.Â Further investigation would have revealed that the grant money arranged by EESI was coming from deep-pocketed liberal environmental groups, like the Rockefeller Brothers Fund.Â
Fast Forward to March 2008:Â Â MCCAG has drafted its policy recommendationsand is preparing to issue its final report.Â Several bills incorporating some of MCCAG’s preliminary recommendations have already been introduced in the state legislature (SF2818, SF0481, SF3337).Â But some policy realistsÂ are beginning to question the objectivity of CCS and the outcomes of its process.Â Many recommendations included inÂ Minnesota’s report look remarkably similar to those of other states whereÂ CCS had been hired to manage their climate commissions.Â Critiques of CCS and its work are beginning to surface around the nation.
How much did Governor Pawlenty know about CCS and its affiliates prior to hiring them to do this project?Â Did the state knowingly hire an environmental activist group disguised as aÂ consultancyÂ and then accept money from liberal foundations to fundÂ the work?Â Is the MCCAG simply a ruse to provideÂ theÂ appearance of legitimacy?Â Most members of MCCAG probably had no idea that their good names were going to be used to sanction what appears to be a predetermined outcome shaped by liberal environmentalists.Â But now that theÂ facts are becoming public,Â one might expect some MCCAG membersÂ to step forward with dissenting opinions, or perhaps even resign from the commission.
So far, there has been little scrutiny of CCS or its affiliates by the mainstream media.Â Which begs the question of what would have been the media’s reaction if a conservative environmental group, such as the Heartland Institute, had been hired as the state’s “consultant” to assist in the developmentÂ of its environmental public policy, and the group’s work was funded by deep-pocketed foundations with a bias that opposes global warming?