Governor Threatens Veto of Energy Bill

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Inconsistent?  Flip-Flop?  Swarthy?  I am not sure what term to use, but the Governor has sent a letter to the conference committee members of the Energy Omnibus bill (SF 145) that seems wholly incompatible with his past statements on the need to address global warming pollution.

From his press release in February:

 “Minnesota’s electric utilities should prepare for the future by offsetting carbon emissions from new fossil-fuel generation sources,” Governor Pawlenty said. “As we look to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, we should not make the situation worse while we try to make it better.”  

That sounds pretty good and I definitely agree with him.  But, from his letter (pdf) yesterday to conferees:

For many reasons, the moratorium language in Article 5, Section 5 of the House language is unacceptable. This language threatens the reliability and the cost-competitiveness of the state’s energy supply by placing a moratorium on nearly all new major transmission lines and generating facilities. I will not allow these important state advantages to be jeopardized.  

First, this statement is inaccurate I believe.  I’ve been looking through the bill the House Passed and the word “transmission” doesn’t even appear in that section.  It is a section on power plants, not transmission lines.  In addition, anyone who wants to build a coal plant would not be affected by this section if they agree to offset their emissions.  The whole section also disappears as soon as a “Cap and Trade” program is put in place.  What’s more, the House already watered down the section by exempting power plants already under consideration at the Public Utilities Commission (such as Big Stone, which the Governor is on record opposing for global warming reasons).

In short, it amazes me that the Governor would threaten a veto to a bill that includes so many great energy provisions over a little section that implements ideas he is on record supporting. 

2 Responses to “Governor Threatens Veto of Energy Bill”

  1. Sundog

    No, the statement was accurate. The House bill prohibited construction of new large energy facilities – the definition of “large energy facility” incorporated transmission lines, in addition to generation facilities. Apparently this was unintended, but seems to me that if that section (Section 5) was flawed at that deep a level, it deserved to be considered “unacceptable” by the Governor (and the Senate, by the way, which had already rejected that section in its own work on the bill).

    Ultimately all of that was dealt with by the conference committee, working very closely with representatives from the Governor’s administration, and a good outcome was developed. I’d expect the Governor to sign the bill — only 14 members of the legislature voted against it.

  2. Jon

    Sundog – thanks for correcting my mistake on transmission lines. I’ve heard some argue that “moratorium” was an inappropriate word choice as well, but the original bill itself used “prohibition” I think. And as you point out, a good bill was produced over the weekend that received wide support, so the end result is great news for Minnesota.


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