At the first debate in Grand Junction, Colorado between Sen. Michael Bennet and Ken Buck, Bennet found himself challenged on the subject of “energy independence” by Buck–”Senator, how can you talk about having energy independence and support cap and trade at the same time?”
Bennet responded, “I just want to clear up one piece of the record, a few minutes ago Ken said, ‘Well why would you support cap and trade?’ I didn’t support the cap and trade bill that passed the House. And I do think it’s an unproductive conversation to be fighting about cap and trade or carbon tax . . . “
In October 2009, Bennet responded to a constituent about H.R.2454, the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act “cap and trade” bill, suggesting at least a preliminary level of support for the efforts in the House:
The nation has come a long way in pursuing a consensus on energy policy and climate change, and it is clear that this is a pivotal moment if we are to make lasting progress. Now is the time for lawmakers to make the difficult decisions on policies that will tackle the rise in greenhouse gases, stimulate the economy, and help lead America to energy independence. Congress and the Obama Administration are both working to curb harmful emissions, and we are closer than ever to implementing policies to regulate greenhouse gas emissions.
The House of Representatives’ passage of H.R.2454 is a significant step in the right direction. The bill includes the implementation of a market-based cap-and-trade program that would reduce carbon dioxide emissions by requiring polluters to trade pollution allowances; a renewable electricity standard (RES), which requires electricity providers to produce 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by the year 2020; significant provisions for energy efficiency in the transportation, home, and commercial sectors; and modernization of our outdated electricity grid. H.R.2454 also contains important provisions for intergovernmental cooperation on climate research, promotes renewable energy technologies such as carbon capture and sequestration, and includes a title that protects U.S. consumers and industry and promotes green jobs during the transition to a clean energy economy. [emphasis added]
By July 2010, Bennet lamented the failure by the Senate to pass a “comprehensive energy and climate bill”:
Michael Bennet, U.S. Senator for Colorado, released the following statement regarding Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s decision to bring a scaled-back energy bill to the Senate floor next week:
“I can’t help but be underwhelmed by Washington today,” said Bennet. “The country needs us to move forward on addressing climate change and creating a clean energy economy. Yet partisanship and gridlock have struck again. We need a comprehensive energy bill that puts a price on carbon pollution and incentivizes the investments in clean energy that will help create jobs and lessen our dependence on overseas oil. A good bill will also follow Colorado’s lead in establishing an aggressive renewable electricity standard.
“We simply can’t afford to let the opportunity to create new clean energy jobs and break our reliance on foreign fossil fuels slip away. And while Washington can’t seem to get its act together, I’m going to keep up the fight to pass a comprehensive energy and climate bill that moves Colorado and the country forward.” [emphasis added]
Bennet had co-signed a letter weeks earlier, emphasizing a “price on carbon emissions,” suggesting that the carbon tax idea was not “unproductive” just two months ago:
All 12 in the current freshmen Democratic class — in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) Friday — say a price on carbon emissions is needed in order to provide market certainty and keep pace with major developing countries like China and India.
Their call for a “polluter pays” approach to climate change echoes that of Democratic leaders looking to strike a deal on a first-time carbon-pricing program focusing on electric utilities.
When Bennet signed a letter to Senate leadership in November 2009, as the Senate considered the House bill and S.1733, the Kerry-Boxer Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act, the left-leaning Colorado Independent noted that Bennet appeared to want to have it “both ways” on “cap-and-trade progressive legislation.”
Democratic Rep. John Salazar (CO-3) was the only Dem “no” vote on Waxman-Markey in Colorado, joining the state’s two Republican representatives, while Rep. Betsy Markey (CO-4), Rep. Jared Polis (CO-2), Rep. Ed Perlmutter (CO-7), and Rep. Diana DeGette (CO-1) all voted for the cap and trade bill.
The debate was held in Grand Junction, the second largest urban area in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District.