Pawlenty works to clear the air

The legislature and Gov. Tim Pawlenty should continue to push clean energy legislation.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty has tried in the past year to redefine himself as a friend of the environment and a strong ally in the fight against global climate change. With the passage of breakthrough energy legislation in Minnesota last year, Pawlenty took credit and has continued to take steps to prove it was more than a passing phase. He has recently lent his voice to radio ads urging Congress to take action, and he has hosted forums with polar explorer Will Steger. Pawlenty is even considering taking a trip with Steger to the Arctic. These are certainly meaningful steps, but we will soon start to see if strong policy decisions will follow, or if Pawlenty is merely offering lip service.

Last spring, Pawlenty appointed 50 people to the Minnesota Climate Change Advisory Group, and they were given the task of brainstorming methods to reduce greenhouse gases. Minnesota has set a goal to reduce its greenhouse emissions 80 percent by 2050 – an ambitious but necessary aim. The panel is made up of a diverse group of interests, and its suggestions mirrored that. A variety of proposals have been discussed from reducing speed limits to pursuing more biofuels and limiting carbon emissions from cars and coal plants. The group will present their findings to Pawlenty, and the Legislature will consider possible bills.

The goal of reducing greenhouse gases is admirable, but there will be a need for serious and varied policies to address the issue. Pawlenty has become an effective spokesman for a cleaner environment, but now we’ll see if he is willing to support tough, possibly unpopular, policy changes. The state took some bold steps forward in 2007, and this year is the perfect time to build off last year’s success. The time to act is now, and Pawlenty finally has a chance to show that he is serious about improving the environment.