WASHINGTON - Following up on the clean-energy initiative he highlighted at the National Governors Association meeting, Gov. Tim Pawlenty spoke Tuesday at the Pew Center on Global Climate Change, where he further outlined his hopes for a green future.

"They don't call it America warming, they call it global warming," Pawlenty said, citing a line from Mitt Romney's presidential bid. "They don't call it Minnesota warming, they call it global warming. And there's a lot of truth to that. What happens in China shows up in Minnesota."

States are "laboratories of democracy" for the federal government, Pawlenty told a state and federal workshop on ways to battle climate change.

"They're smaller, they're more nimble; in many issue areas, they can move more quickly than the federal government," Pawlenty said. "There's value in individual states going out and trying things, experimenting with things to see how it works, how well it's received, before you visit it on the whole country."

Pawlenty cited the Clean Air Act, biofuels and health care as examples where states led the way before the federal government took up the cause.

Talking to reporters before the speech, the governor also stressed the need to renew federal clean and renewable energy tax credits. In a letter issued Tuesday, the Governors Association urged Congress to extend the tax credits.

In addition to biofuels, Pawlenty called for the use of cellulosic ethanol and for measures to implement goals and, more importantly, the methods to reduce greenhouse gases.

The governor also touched on the difficulty between supporting both the environment and the economy, especially in hard economic times.

When it comes to discussions of a new policy, Pawlenty said, people often first say it will never work, then that it's too expensive, then finally that they were for it all along.

"We are somewhere along that continuum, beyond point one," he said.

Conrad Wilson • 202-408-2723