Pawlenty Takes Another Hit

by Paul Chesser, Heartland Institute Correspondent on April 10, 2008

Paul Chesser, Climate Strategies Watch

Minnesota has developed into the nation’s state-level combat zone on global warming, where groups and individuals have aligned to oppose what their state’s climate commission is trying to sell them. Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty, who many political observers perceive is angling for the vice presidential nomination, has invested his credibility and stature heavily in the issue, especially as chair of the National Governors Association. The blowback began in February when fellow executives from other states took him behind the woodshed.

The resistance elevated last month when one of the state’s free-market think tanks, the Center of the American Experiment, brought in economist Dr. Margo Thorning of the American Council for Capital Formation to discuss the staggering costs that would result from federal and state proposals to reduce greenhouse gases.

Yesterday another bomb dropped in St. Paul: a coalition of free-marketers, property rights, social conservatives, state legislators, and disaffected members of the Minnesota Climate Change Advisory Group held a press conference at the legislature and released two separate reports criticizing the junk economics, alarmist climate forecasts, and nonexistent feasibility study of the proposals coming from MCCAG. Minnesota Majority, the social conservatives, and the American Property Coalition joined forces to commission the Beacon Hill Institute to critique the MCCAG’s recommendations (PDF). The Minnesota Free Market Institute also did their own study. For once local mainstream media outlets were virtually forced to report that more than just a small, dissenting group of “deniers” or “skeptics” oppose dramatic increases in energy costs that will come from these global warming “solutions.” But the reports also revealed the disingenousness of the MCCAG majority members and its advocates. From the Star-Tribune:

Edward Garvey, director of the state Office of Energy Security and a coordinator of the climate change advisory panel, said the recommendations are intended to be an ongoing dialogue. As such, they couldn't yield a precise price tag, he said.

"The charge is to move thoughtfully, deliberately and incrementally, understand and think through what the next steps are with the knowledge you have," Garvey said.

Similarly, from Minnesota Public Radio:

(MCCAG member J. Drake) Hamilton says the advisory group was never supposed to do a cost-benefit analysis. She says its work was a start, and the Legislature will study it carefully before enacting any of the recommendations.

This is, in abbreviated form, B.S. The process memo that lays out the work of MCCAG and the work of its manager, the Center for Climate Strategies, explains that they were tasked for:

Development and recommendation of a comprehensive set of specific policy recommendations and associated analyses to reduce GHG emissions and enhance energy and economic policy in Minnesota by 2025 and beyond….

Results of MCCAG decisions will include explicit descriptions of policy design parameters and results of economic analysis. Recommendations can include both quantified and non-quantified actions, with emphasis on quantification of GHG reduction potential and cost or cost savings for as many recommendations as possible.

CCS and MCCAG fully intended to give the impression that they gave attention to responsible economic analysis for their proposed measures – hence their claims of “net savings” for some of the ideas and “net costs” for others, without providing any data substantiation for their findings. If they weren’t supposed to yield a “precise price tag,” then why make unproveable assertions that their proposals will only cost the state economy $726 million by 2025, or as CCS boasted in its New Mexico findings, that they would save that state $2 billion? And remember that these are “recommendations” from a so-called objective study commission in order to achieve the necessary greenhouse gas emission reductions to save the planet. Anything less than full implementation and it would plunge us further into economic and environmental harm.

Pawlenty cannot be happy that such a significant coalition, many of whom probably help put him in office, are publicly embarrassing him on an issue on which he has based much of his reputation. They should be commended for their courage in bringing reality to a debate which for too long has been owned by the absurd.

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