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Issue Watch: Global warming

Posted at 9:06 AM on March 14, 2007 by Bob Collins

If you're looking for a public hearing where some good old emotion is likely to break out, look no further today than the House Energy Finance and Policy Division, which meets toay at 2:15, and which I think will actually vote today on HF375, sponsored by Rep. Maria Ruud. This is the Global Warming Mitigation Act (Votetracker).

At a hearing on Monday, I thought I was watching a hearing on the Stop the Big Stone Power Plant Act, after an environmental lobbyist, and Rep. Michael Beard -- and then Rep. Aaron Peterson -- got into a three-way debate over the expansion plans for the South Dakota plant (more here). It ended with Rep. Aaron Peterson telling supporters of the plant, and representatives who question warming, to "wake up and come into the 21st century," a comment that earned him a mild rebuke from Chair Gene Pelowski.

The hearing also earned points -- or should have -- with best creative use of an automobile analogy, when one proponent of the measure noted that the state has already passed a renewable energy standard, but that now it's time to roll back the use of carbon-based fuels. "It would be like driving south on I-35 to Albert Lea at 100 miles an hour and then realizing you need to be in Duluth so rather than turn around, you just slow to 55," he said.

Obviously, if there's one thing that brings out emotion, it's the issue of global warming. It also brings out plenty of hypocrisy (in politicians? nahhhhh!) and, lately, blatant stupidity.

The Drudge Report and a bunch of conservatives got all goosey a week or so ago when it reported that MPR had canceled a global warming conference because of a blizzard. In truth, the public portion of the forum was canceled (it still went on), but what was the suggestion here? Answer: It snowed so therefore global warming isn't an issue.

I saw in the Stribs letter to the editor, that one person picked up the cue. A gentleman named Steve Adams wrote:

Two weeks ago a local Minnesota Public Radio event on global arming had to be canceled because of a blizzard. Now, explorer Ann Bancroft intended to raise awareness about global arming with her trek to the Arctic but had to turn back because of bitterly cold temperatures. Now that's what I call "inconvenient"!

As someone who doesn't see many issues -- political issues -- in black or white and enjoys hearing a spirited debate, I'm hoping today's debate focuses on a more intelligent vein. Global warming theory advocates, as far as I know, have never argued that it won't snow in Minnesota or it isn't cold in the Arctic now, but that it's warmer than it used to be, and in the future it may not snow in Minnesota. Now, I know opponents of the theory also have some intepretation of the data that is a step above the Drudge Report and today's letter in the Strib. And then, of course, we have Drudge and his minions who picked up the talking point.

I'm hoping for the former approach to the issue -- intelligent debate -- but won't be shocked if we get the latter.

What say you?

Short hops: To the folks who run the House/Senate TV broadcasts. I beg you: Please stop running those cut pieces on the history of Minnesota and the segments on how laws are formed, especially those featuring reps, senators, and chief justices who are no longer in power. It's March 14...there's committee hearings going on. Please broadcast them instead.