Pawlenty and Minnesota Climate Change

Paul Chesser, Climate Strategies Watch

Here in Minnesota, where I’ve been the last two days talking about the state’s Climate Change Advisory Group and explaining what can be expected in their recommendations, the Center for Climate Strategies has not been able to push all their greenhouse gas-reduction ideas as robustly as they have been able to in most other states. Perhaps that has to do with the fact that Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty was the one who created the commission and brought CCS on board, and politically has to be sensitive to the elements of his support who actually care about the state’s people and their economy.

That’s not to say the MCCAG’s report itself won’t be filled with the usual CCS pap, like cap-and-trade, smart growth-based land use regulations, and “climate-friendly transportation pricing.” It’s just that Pawlenty already is showing he is not willing to go as far as CCS and the commission would like. For example, the MCCAG approved a plan to reduce speed limits on highways in the state back down to 55 mph. That was too much for the governor, and he left it out of his preliminary recommendations – which were supposed to largely reflect the will of the MCCAG – that he released on Friday. That report is already being criticized by lefty environmentalists for not being strong enough, which they are right about if they hoped Pawlenty would just rubberstamp and release the findings of the MCCAG.

Also worthy of note, demonstrating that CCS and environmentalists aren’t getting everything they want: one of the MCCAG’s recommendations is to repeal the state’s ban on construction of new nuclear power facilities. That is a first (at least as far as I’ve seen) for any of these state commissions. And you can tell in the language (written by CCS) explaining the recommendations for the MCCAG that they are less than enthusiastic about the idea. Nevertheless, it got through.

So, there are two separate tracks to follow in Minnesota as they prepare to formally release their proposals in the coming weeks or months. First is Pawlenty: how much of the energy cost-raising and property rights-limiting ideas from MCCAG will he embrace as his own, and implement (to the degree he is able) through executive orders? Second is MCCAG: How much will the Democrat-dominated legislature take their recommendations and try to make them law? 

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