A set of 60 recommendations for how Minnesota could achieve significant greenhouse gas reductions in the coming years is "fantasy" that ignores how much it will cost businesses and consumers, according to a group of free marketeers.

The recommendations by the Minnesota Climate Change Advisory Group, a panel of business and community leaders appointed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty last year to develop strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, are based on inadequate economic research and flawed assumptions about behavior, the critics said.

"They simply ignored reality," said David Strom, president of the Minnesota Free Markets Institute and former president of the Taxpayers League of Minnesota. Strom was joined at a Capitol news conference Wednesday by Rep. Mike Beard, R-Shakopee; Sen. David Hann, R-Eden Prairie; Linda Runberck, development director of the American Property Coalition; Burnsville businessman Jim Marchessault, who participated in the climate change advisory group; Jeff Davis, president of Minnesota Majority, and several others.

The group commissioned the Beacon Hill Institute, a Boston-based, small-government economic research group, to study the recommendations. The institute reported that the MCCAG recommendations didn't adequately calculate costs and benefits, allowed for too many uncertainties and is "useless for making any informed policy decisions." The estimated net cost of $726 million by 2025 if the recommendations were enacted "grossly underestimates" their true cost, the review stated.

Beard and others generally said they believed that economic competition, not government mandates, can lead to greenhouse gas reductions, if they are even needed. Greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide, are blamed for global warming.

Edward Garvey, director of the state Office of Energy Security and a coordinator of the climate change advisory panel, said the recommendations are intended to be an ongoing dialogue. As such, they couldn't yield a precise price tag, he said.

Pawlenty's order to the group was to reach various greenhouse gas reduction goals without costing Minnesota jobs or putting the state at an economic disadvantage, Garvey said.

"The charge is to move thoughtfully, deliberately and incrementally, understand and think through what the next steps are with the knowledge you have," Garvey said. "We don't know everything we need to know."

The MCCAG's final report is expected to be posted online for public comment perhaps as early as today at www.mnclimatechange.us/MCCAG.cfm. The deadline for public comments is April 18.

Bill McAuliffe • 612-673-7646