Forum editorial: Minnesota takes lead on energy
Gov. Tim Pawlenty's inaugural speech Tuesday confirmed his determination to put Minnesota in the forefront of developing renewable fuels. The governor, who began his second term this week, has been focused and consistent in his support for increa...
Gov. Tim Pawlenty's inaugural speech Tuesday confirmed his determination to put Minnesota in the forefront of developing renewable fuels. The governor, who began his second term this week, has been focused and consistent in his support for increasing the percentage of renewable fuels in the state's overall energy mix.
Most importantly, Pawlenty has put the prestige and influence of his office behind a requirement that Minnesota get 25 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by the year 2025. He's not called the requirement a mandate, but the proposal includes financial penalties for firms that don't comply. If not a mandate, it certainly would qualify as a strong incentive, should the Legislature agree.
(Unlike the poorly conceived city-targeted initiatives that failed on ballots in Fargo and Grand Forks, N.D., Pawlenty's plan is a statewide requirement, which makes energy, economic and political sense.)
The Republican governor has emerged as a national leader on energy matters. Minnesota, for example, is among the nation's leaders in production of ethanol and wind energy. A favorable market, federal tax breaks and state incentives have stimulated the alternative energy sector in the state. But the importance of substantive support from the governor's office is a vital factor for long-term success.
Pawlenty has support among Democrats in the Legislature, which is important because Democrats control both houses. But partisans on both sides of the aisle know from their constituents that renewable energy is not about politics. Crafting sustainable initiatives in order to stimulate renewable energy investment and reduce the use of fossil fuels is good public policy.
The governor's proposals also include:
- Expanding the number of pumps selling E85 (85 percent ethanol, 15 percent gasoline) from 300 to 1,800 in four years.
- Cut state use of fossil fuels, such as coal, 15 percent by 2015.
- Develop a comprehensive plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
- Financial incentives to speed development of new forms of ethanol (now made mostly from corn), including plant cellulose, such as wood or grasses.
- Recognize more commercial buildings that are energy efficient.
The governor and his supporters have raised Minnesota's renewable energy profile to national leadership status. That's good news for the future of the state. It's also an example Minnesota's neighbors can emulate.
Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper's Editorial Board.