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Pawlenty promotes green jobs

Gov. Tim Pawlenty Monday announces an $86 million plan to add jobs in the renewable, solar and similar industries. He made the initial announcement in the Capitol, then flew around the state to promote it. -- photo by Don Davis/Minnesota Capitol Bureau

ST. PAUL - Minnesota should spend $86 million in the next five years to expand green jobs across the state, Gov. Tim Pawlenty said this morning.

As he was beginning a statewide tour announcing his "Green Jobs Investment Initiative," Pawlenty told reporters in a Capitol news conference that he does not know how many jobs his plan would create. However, he predicted it would be a significant number and state officials predicted more than 114,000 millions will hold such jobs in the next 30 years - not necessarily all credited to the program Pawlenty just announced. About 15,000 Minnesotans work in green jobs today.

Green jobs are those involving the manufacture or other work on renewable energy components ranging from manufacturing wind-powered electric generator parts to making crop-based fuels.

Pawlenty's proposal, which needs legislative approval, would:

• Create a nearly tax-free environment for business that create green jobs. It would be patterned after the Job Opportunity Building Zones program designed to help struggling rural areas.

• Provide a tax breaks to investors willing to spend money on green job creation projects.

• Give companies that produce solar or biomethane gas (such as from landfills and manure) energy credit toward meeting the state's goal of providing 25 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2025.

Pawlenty planned stops in Glyndon, Duluth, Rochester and St. Cloud after his initial St. Paul announcement this morning. He is emphasizing education, the environment and the economy in his 2009 legislative proposals.

The Legislature returns to St. Paul on Jan. 6, facing what most expect to be a major deficit; some say it would be $4 billion. Pawlenty said today's proposals would have a minimal affect on the state's $30 billion-plus two-year budget.

Don Davis
Don Davis has been the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau chief since 2001, covering state government and politics for two dozen newspapers in the state. Don also blogs at Capital Chatter on Areavoices.