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Following energy issues in the state of Connecticut and beyond.

Monday, June 29, 2009

An unlikely hot-button issue

Has the American electorate gotten noticeably smarter? You'd think so with the way that the discussion of "cap-and-trade programs" is becoming an almost daily occurance at both the state and national levels.

Justin Bernier, the Plainville Republican challenging U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy for his Fifth District congressional seat, is just the latest politician to use cap-and-trade as a campaign tool. Benier criticized Murphy, who is from Cheshire, for supporting the creation of such a program at the federal level.

"Cap and Trade’ raises the cost of energy and all products made with energy," Bernier said in a release put out late Friday. "It will hurt our economy without helping the environment. Because only America is covered by Cap and Trade, this new tax will give corporations another excuse to outsource millions of jobs to China, India, Mexico, and other polluter paradises."

But before rushing out to beat up Murphy for supporting a federal cap-and-trade program, Bernier probably should have checked to see what other politicians are on the same page with the Democratic congressman. If Bernier had, he would have found a prominent Republican in his home state - Gov. M. Jodi Rell - is an ardent cap-and-trade supporter.

Cap-and-trade-programs involve placing a limit on the amount of carbon dioxide that power plants can emit and then auctioning off “allowances” to cover the emissions that power generators and other companies produce that are above the limit.

Connecticut is one of 10 states in the Northeast that are part of a part of a cap-and-trade program. The participating states use the money generated by the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) auctions to fund clean and renewable energy programs.

The RGGI auction, which was held earlier this month, produced $4.7 million for Connecticut ’s clean energy and efficiency programs. Connecticut has received about $18.7 million from the four RGGI auctions held since last fall.

In opposing a federal cap-and-trade programs, Bernier said, "“Cap-and-trade is another example of our representatives in Washington ignoring their constituents back home."

Unfortunately for Bernier, Rell isn't part of crowd in Washington and has said repeatedly that the federal government should have its own cap and trade program. So when he comes out and opposes cap and trade, it makes Bernier look like he hasn't done his homework or at very least, isn't on the same page with the state's best known Republican politician.

The other thing seems odd in Bernier's use of cap-and-trade as way to differentiate himself from Murphy is the complex nature of the subject. Simple is better when it comes campaign trail issues and there's very little about cap-and-trade programs that is simple.

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