Deepening his involvement in the global warming debate and in national affairs, Gov. Tim Pawlenty is lending his voice to a nationwide radio ad sponsored by the activist Environmental Defense Action Fund. In the ad, Pawlenty teams up with Arizona's Democratic Gov. Janet Napolitano to scold Congress for not doing more to combat climate change.

Against a background of inspirational, New Age-style music, the two tout state-level achievements and urge Congress to pass national curbs on greenhouse gas emissions. Quick action could spur thousands of "enviro-friendly" jobs, Pawlenty and Napolitano say in the ad. Foot-dragging, they warn, could push job-yielding innovations overseas.

Those claims are disputed by some critics who say that the jury is still out on climate change and that promises of a golden age of affordable, homegrown fuel and controllable climate are overstated. Many of those are in Pawlenty's Republican Party, and the pressure on him to back off the issue has been substantial at times.

But Alex Carey, spokesman for Pawlenty, said the governor is convinced of the need for action. Pawlenty plans another clean energy package in the coming legislative session and has adopted renewable energy as his signature issue during his tenure leading the National Governors Association. Napolitano was the previous chair.

'He agrees with them on this'

"He would prefer that come from the federal government," Carey said, so when Environmental Defense officials approached Pawlenty for the ad, "it was something he really wanted to do."

Carey was quick to add that Pawlenty "does not agree with everything the Environmental Defense Fund does, but he agrees with them on this."

Tony Kreindler, a spokesman for Environmental Defense, said Pawlenty was chosen by the group "because of his leadership on this issue and in the party and because Minnesota is the site for the Republican National Convention."

The ads are part of Operation Climate Vote, a major initiative by Environmental Defense's action fund to promote congressional action on climate change, and the two governors are not their only bipartisan recruits. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, one of the world's top-grossing actors in action films, is featured in a TV ad with the Democratic governor of Montana and the Republican governor from Utah in a similar plea.

The Pawlenty/Napolitano radio ad airs in Washington this week and will hit the airwaves in selected congressional districts across the country, just as political activity nears a frenzied peak in anticipation of the Feb. 5 Super Tuesday primaries and caucuses in two dozen states.

Patricia Lopez • 651-222-1288