The National Governors Association has linked up with “a team of Wal-Mart energy experts” to “green the capitols.”

That’s fantastic — and I’m sure it will draw well-deserved huzzahs in certain green circles. (It’s touching to see Wal-Mart giving back some of what it has been siphoning off in state taxes!)

But read a little deeper into the press release, and you see what the National Governors Association means by “green.” Turns out that when it comes to energy, the govs love some pretty dubious stuff.

I’ll let Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell take it from here:

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[I]t’s clear that charting our own energy future will require every available resource at America’s disposal, from clean coal and nuclear to biofuels and renewables.

Oh dear. The press release linked to a document (PDF) charting out the governors’ big energy plan. It’s mainly about keeping cars on the road without having to buy much (cue scary music) foreign oil. You know, energy independence.

I searched the 27-page treatise for keywords “rail” and “train.” Evidently, trains figure into the governors’ plans only as a method for hauling liquid fuels — for cars.

“Public transportation” yielded no results; “public transit” turned up a plan to get bus drivers to reduce idling their engines.

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“Ethanol” drew 100 results. Here’s a typical one: “Promote non-petroleum-based fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel.” “Coal-to-liquid” yielded seven hits, all quite respectful of the technology. Like this one:

Tested by the U.S. Department of Defense in 6.5-liter diesel engines, it [indirect-coal liquidation] has been shown to reduce regulated criteria air pollutant emissions from a variety of diesel engines and vehicles, and the near-zero sulfur content of these fuels can enable the use of advanced emission control devices.

“Nuclear” only gets two hits — I suppose because the piece focuses on transport fuels. But the governors do see it as a respectable source of energy for hydrogen storage.

To their credit, the governors do go on at some length about “increasing fuel economy.” But that section gets three pages of a 27-page document; the one on “State Actions to Promote Green Fuels and Vehicles” draws nearly twice as much space.

The message, it seems to me, is that while we praise the governors for greening their capitol buildings, we also need to kick their asses to get them to stop mindlessly promoting “clean coal” and ethanol projects — and start investing in public transportation and other direct forms of conservation, as well as truly renewable energy like wind and solar.

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