A bill in the Minnesota legislature would repeal portions of a 2007 state law that restrict the construction of new coal power plants as well as the import of coal-fired electricity in other states.

That law, the Next Generation Energy Act of 2007, passed with bipartisan support and was championed by then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty.

So what would Pawlenty have to say about efforts to gut this landmark legislation?

State Rep. Joe Atkins, a Democrat who represents a suburban district south of St. Paul, decided to find out. He sent a letter to Pawlenty, asking him to come to the Capitol to testify Wednesday against the bill, HF 72, that would remove the coal restriction.

Pawlenty, who is mounting a PR push ahead of a possible presidential run, declined. So Atkins showed this video to the House Commerce Committee instead:

YouTube video

To be fair, the person in the video is the “old” Tim Pawlenty. The former governor has since made a complete 180 on climate and energy issues, earning a “Full Flop” rating from PolitiFact.

Pawlenty told conservative bloggers last month that his support for cap and trade was “stupid,” and acknowledged that “almost everybody who’s running has a similar problem” in that they were once realists on climate change and had to backtrack quickly when that position became politically toxic among conservatives.

What a difference a couple of years makes.

(h/t: Ethan Fawley)

Ken is the director of the Energy News Network at Fresh Energy and is a founding editor of both Midwest Energy News and Southeast Energy News. Prior to joining Fresh Energy, he was the managing editor for online news at Minnesota Public Radio. He started his journalism career in 2002 as a copy editor for the Duluth News Tribune before spending five years at the Spokesman-Review in Spokane, Washington, where he worked as a copy editor, online producer, features editor and night city editor. A Nebraska native, Ken has a bachelor's degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and a master's degree from the University of Oregon. He is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and Investigative Reporters and Editors.