Tim Pawlenty, the Republican Governor of Minnesota, is leading the nation's discussion on "securing a clean energy future."
That's the No. 1 topic on the agenda for the National Governors Association meeting that begins Saturday in Washington, and the discussion comes at a time when states have been leading the nation forward on environmental, energy and global warming issues. It's people like Pawlenty, a name most Americans would not recognize, leading the charge.
And notice that the initiative is toward a "clean energy future," not merely an energy independent future, a laudable goal that is hamstrung by environmental questions, since domestic supplies of coal and oil could be huge parts of any energy independence, but not a clean energy plan. (States will also be grilling EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson on his decision to deny California its right to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from vehicles, an initiative about a dozen other states planned to follow if it gained EPA approval.)
Also significant is the that the discussion is happening at a time when state budgets are facing huge, and sometimes record shortfalls. This is a time for belt-tightening around the nation, as the era of free-wheeling spending on credit, from the household to the statehouse, comes to an end.
The economic stimulus that puts more dollars in people's pockets, and state budgets, is a short-term solution. The governors seem to see that long term and sustained economic stimulus can come from investments in clean energy research and deployment, which can create millions of new jobs and create whole new domestic industries.
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