Salazar votes no on cap and trade

— Congressman John Salazar, D-Colo., who represents Moffat County, was the only congressional Democrat of Colorado's delegation to vote no June 26 on the American Clean Energy and Security Act, otherwise known as the cap and trade bill.

Salazar joined representatives Doug Lamborn and Mark Coffman, both Colorado Republicans, in their opposition.

Cap and trade is a system where businesses would be required to meet greenhouse gas emission standards, or otherwise be forced to pay an energy tax or buy special credits, which would be available in a market-based system.

Despite Salazar's opposition, the bill passed the House by seven votes, 219-212.

Salazar said he could not support a bill that would put so much burden on his constituents, despite his overall support of clean energy legislation.

"I have always been a strong proponent of creating green jobs and investing in renewable energy," Salazar said in a news release Monday. "But, the cost to consumers in this bill is highest for those living in rural America, particularly in a district like Colorado's Third where the Low Income Energy Assistance Program is vital in getting us through our long harsh winters."

The congressman added that although federal officials estimate the cost increase for an average U.S. household would be about $165 a year, the same officials estimate annual energy costs for a home in the Western Slope would go up between "a few hundred dollars to several thousand dollars."

Salazar said he lobbied for changes before the vote, such as allowing extra time or pollution allowances for rural utility providers and large investments for clean coal technology and nuclear power.

However, none of those provisions made it into the bill, he said.

The cap and trade bill has moved to the Senate where it still is being debated.

Salazar said he hopes the legislation will evolve to include some of the ideas he proposed, but if it does not, he will continue to support rural residents and businesses.

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