When we first read GOP candidate wannabe Brian Davis's five-point energy policy press release, we contemplated gassing up the Hummer, driving north, and mowing down a few dozen reindeer, starting with Donner and Blixen. Repealing CAFE standards, drilling in ANWR, denying global warming, eliminating mandates: what's not to love?
That nearly maenadical frenzy left us as soon as we walked out to the garage and remembered that we drive a Focus, which would probably take out one or two of Santa's helpers, but not a herd. That sobering moment took us back to the press release and longer email sent out to First District Republicans. It's a fascinating set of documents, taking Walz to task for voting for the Energy Bill that President Bush signed into law.
Now, given the climate in Washington, it's not likely that Bush is putting his mark on any bill that lacks bipartisan support, but Davis's epistle to the First's pachyderm base paints the bill as a Democratic measure, naming Bachmann's and Kline's opposition. Those guys named Jim Ramstad ? Norm Coleman? That should work well for joint appearances with the Coleman campaign if Davis is endorsed.
We were also charmed by Davis's objections to renewable electricity standards, objections he thinks are still supported by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. Indeed, Davis links to a MnCC legislative priority published at the beginning of the 2007 session of the Minnesota state legislature.
Sure, it's an agenda item directed toward state law-making, rather than the federal energy bill. But--hey, Davis brought it into the discussion. We'll run with it.
Just as we as were brought back to reality by the contents of our garage, Davis should have looked a little more carefully at the Chamber of Commerce's opposition to the state RES. We looked to Lexis-Nexis to see if the Chamber of Commerce ended up supporting the renewable energy standards that were up for consideration in the last session.
On February 2, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reported in Minnesota Legislature / Clean energy bill takes first step: 25% of electricity would come from renewable sources that a breakthrough had come after intense negotiations. The state chamber was on board:
Mike Franklin, director of energy policy for the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, called the deal the most aggressive renewable-energy bill in the nation. "We're glad senators Anderson and (Yvonne Prettner) Solon recognized the need to do this in a way that recognizes the competitive nature of the Minnesota economy," Franklin said.
By February 7, 2007, The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce had given its blessing to the Renewable Energy Standards in SF4. Senator Ellen Anderson sent out a press release about the bill's overwhelming passage in the state senate.
The release said in part (emphasis added):
This bill will make Minnesota the national leader in renewable energy development and set our state on the road to energy independence," said Sen. Ellen Anderson (DFL-St. Paul/Falcon Heights), the chief author of SF4. "It will lead to cleaner air and water and spur job creation and investment all across Minnesota.
Utilities must meet specific standards spelled out in the bill by certain years. Flexibility is built into the bill for cases in which utilities cannot meet the standard because of significant problems with reliability or cost or technical problems outside their control. In those cases the utility must ask the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) for a modification based on strict criteria.
The PUC will also be required to create a Renewable Energy Credits Trading System by the beginning of 2008 which will allow companies that are producing extra renewable energy to sell credits to those who are not producing enough.
The Renewable Energy Standard resulted from negotiations between Sen. Anderson, other members of the committee, the Governor's Office, utility companies, the Chamber of Commerce, environmental organizations and others.
"I am pleased that everyone was able to work together and reach a solution that we could all agree to," said Anderson. "By coming together, we were able to create a standard which will improve our environment while ensuring that utility companies will be able to build the necessary transmission and energy production facilities."
How broad was that support? The votes in the Minnesota State Senate and House reveal how out of touch Davis is not only with the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce's evolving position, but with his fellow Republicans in the First. Not one Republican state senator nor one Republican state representative elected by voters in the First voted against this. Just as the federal energy bill (which does not contain renewable electricity standards) made it through in a belligerently partisan environment, so too did the state RES.
Governor Pawlenty signed the bill into law on February 22, 2007.
We'll be looking at a couple more items in Davis's plan that put him outside of the mainstream in the First and looking at other critiques of the ideas. Over at Minnesota Monitor, Joe Bodell looks at what they talk about when they talk about energy in Washington. Looks like Davis has picked up Washington-speak pretty quick for a rookie.