Emmer targets Cap and Trade (and GOP rival) in new bill

GOP state Rep. Tom Emmer is targeting his chief Republican rival for governor over a bill that deals with renewable energy and cap and trade. Emmer introduced legislation this week that would “remove Minnesota from the cap and trade scheme the state entered into with passage of the 2007 Next Generation Energy bill.”

That law, which overwhelmingly passed the House and Senate and was signed by Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty, calls for the state to develop and implement a regional approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from activities in the region, including consulting on a regional cap and trade system.

Emmer, who was one of nine House members to vote against the bill in 2007, said he thinks the law and other renewable energy requirements drive up energy costs.

“There are many different factors and variables, but one of the primary variables that when government gets involved in mandates that you must have renewables in wind, solar and biofuels. We all want to be energy independent but inexpensive and efficient energy is what drives our quality of life and drives our economy. When government starts mandating, it creates an imbalance in the marketplace.”

Emmer is hoping to convince the Legislature and Pawlenty to repeal the legislation but it also serves a political purpose. His top opponent in the GOP race for governor, state Rep. Marty Seifert, voted for the bill. Emmer acknowledged that his proposal is an attempt to highlight his differences with Seifert on the 2007 vote.

“It does set us apart from the standpoint that it’s about leadership. While everybody else is concerned with what the vote might be to their political future, I think you have to be more concerned with what’s right for Minnesota.”

Emmer and Seifert are in a race to court potential GOP delegates for the April convention. Since both have promised to drop out of the race if they don’t win the GOP endorsement for governor, winning those activists is key. Emmer could gain some traction on this issue because many GOP activists are deeply skeptical that human activity is causing global climate change. As MPR’s Tim Pugmire reported last year, all but one of the GOP candidates for governor reject the science around global warming.

I contacted Seifert’s campaign but haven’t received a comment yet. I’ll post when when I do.

Update:

Seifert’s campaign manager, Ben Zierke, sent along a note saying Seifert doesn’t disagree with Emmer on the issue. He said he would support Emmer’s proposal to repeal that section of the bill. He also sent along a statement Seifert made in 2009:

“As a legislator, I have consistently supported common-sense energy policies, including lifting the nuclear moratorium in Minnesota, clean coal technology, and other sources of affordable energy. This year, I was honored to be one of two Minnesotans (along with Governor Pawlenty) to receive the “Hero of the Taxpayer” Award from the Taxpayer’s League of Minnesota.

The last thing Minnesotans need is another tax increase from the Federal Government. Recently, I co-signed a letter to our congressional delegation opposing the “cap and trade” scheme that is being pushed by the Obama Administration and Democratic leaders in Congress which will cost hard-working Minnesota families thousands of dollars. As Governor, I would veto any similar proposal on the state level that crossed my desk.”