James Lileks outlines for National Review Online readers his reaction to a quote from his local newspaper: “Now is the time for Minnesota to push to become fossil-fuel free.”

The author, Minnesota state senator John Marty, believes we must turn away from the moral stain of carbon, because otherwise people in Kansas will be standing on tiptoe to avoid rising seas. From the article:

‘Severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts for people and ecosystems,” will occur unless we aggressively address climate change, according to a draft of the latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.

I don’t know how you can argue with a report from a panel that’s not just governmental but intergovernmental, and is the latest, and is a draft. Makes Moses’s tablets look like a dry-erase board. Onward:

As a recent report on Minnesota’s energy policy reminds us, our energy future is a matter of choice, not fate. If we plan ahead, we can end our state’s costly reliance on fossil fuels, making it an opportunity to build a better future.

To move us forward, I authored a law designed to formulate a thoughtful path to make Minnesota the first state in the nation to transition to a 100 percent renewable-energy economy, eliminating use of fossil fuels.

One hundred percent fossil-fuel free. How? Law! O sweet wise law, with its dazzling thoughtful-path formulations. The op-ed has no details on the Thoughtful Path, but the author notes:

Not only are the costs of unmitigated climate change almost unimaginable, but in immediate impacts, Minnesota’s economy burns through $18 billion every year to import fossil fuels.

I imagine the state burns through tons of money to import furniture and oranges as well. It’s an interesting figure, this $18 billion; googling around, I found this:

At a legislative hearing on energy, Marty Kushler, Senior Fellow at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, told legislators that while Minnesotans regularly debate the impact on the economy of the $18 billion in taxes that pay for the state general fund budget, they are largely unaware of the $13 billion that Minnesotans spend to import coal, oil, natural gas and other fossil fuels.

I’d send that figure to Senator Marty, but that’s from an article he wrote for another publication.

Anyhoo, let’s split the diff and say it’s $15.5 billion, and the economy of the state and the fate of the earth would be just jake if the money was spent on solar and wind, including small pinwheels on the back of cows to generate energy from all the methane flatulence. This is money that individuals spend, right? It’s not as if a fat plutocrat from a Thomas Nast cartoon shows up once a year at the state capitol, takes his watch from his waistcoat, and says “Reckon it’s time you settle up, boys. Eighteen billion, cash on the barrelhead.” No, it’s individuals spending money on silly non-essentials like gasoline.

STOP DOING THAT! Here, take the thoughtful path. Spend your gas money on . . . what, exactly? There has to be some transition point where every car in the state is exchanged for one that runs on compressed air or electricity or Fred Flintstone–feet or a rubber-band wound really tight. This wouldn’t destroy the gasoline-based convenience-store industry, it would revitalize it: Like days of yore, men in smart uniforms would spring from the store the moment you ran over the ding-ding! rope, and say “Wind ’er up, sir?”