A Critical Read of Dennis Rehberg’s Take on Cap and Trade

While some might be tempted to believe the Competitive Enterprise Institute penned editorial that Representative Rehberg has been peddling around the state’s newspapers, looking at it while a tiny degree of scrutiny might change your perspective.

Representative Rehberg:

While the eyes of the nation are on the health care debate in Washington, D.C., Congress is quietly passing legislation that’s specifically designed to undermine the already ailing health of our economy. We were promised an economy that worked for everyone, but instead Congress has passed an energy policy written by powerful special interests that are literally choosing winners and creating losers…

Rehberg needs to be a little more specific, I think. In 2005, he was perfectly content to help the slightly more powerful special interests in the energy lobby when he voted for the Energy Bill. You know, the one that “picked winners” in nuclear power ($4.3 billion), fossil fuel production ($2.8 billion), clean coal production ($1.6 billion).

It’s not “winners and losers” that Representative Rehberg is concerned with at all; it’s making sure that the same polluting industries he’s supported his whole career keep getting sweet deals from Congress. Hell, Rehberg even bragged about helping particular companies in 2005; it’s pretty hard to take this criticism seriously at all.

Representative Rehberg:

This legislation means higher energy bills for Montana families and higher operating costs and fewer jobs for our small businesses. Real people will lose real jobs. In fact, the nonpartisan Heritage Foundation predicts that cap and tax will cost more than 8,600 jobs in Montana alone. Those are jobs we can’t afford to lose.

Ah, yes, the world-renowned “non-partisan” Heritage Foundation. That designation might trick the kind of people who hang around Rehberg’s Facebook page, but anyone who has read a newspaper in the last 8-10 years knows that the boys and girls at Heritage are reliably right-wing. How accurate are their numbers? Not very accurate at all, as they seem to assume that no new technology or energy sources will be phased in.

Representative Rehberg:

Agriculture, which is Montana’s largest industry sector, will be among the hardest-hit industries. By driving up the costs of production, cap and tax narrows already thin profit margins and makes American ag producers less competitive in a global marketplace where they must compete with producers who aren’t subjected to similar restrictions.

You’ll notice a striking lack of support, even a quote from the Heritage Foundation, on this one. That’s because conservatives are making it up. A comprehensive study by the Brookings Institute shows that, even in the worst case scenario, the impact on agriculture will be minimal.

Representative Rehberg:

In fact, far from addressing climate change, cap and tax acts more as an energy redistribution policy from producing states like Montana to energy using states like California and Florida.

Montana needs jobs, not social engineering from Washington, D.C., that puts the interests of San Franciscans over the livelihoods of Montanans. We need an all-of-the-above energy solution that drives the economy and that really does work for everyone.

I thought conservatives were supposed to be optimists. I know that I believe in the ingenuity and skills of Montana workers and companies. Wouldn’t our representative in Congress better serve the people of Montana by getting out in the lead on new jobs and a green economy, rather than wailing about a change that’s certainly coming?

To be fair, Rehberg is doing what he does best: carrying water for large fossil fuel companies rather than the people of Montana. Why is it so difficult for him to just tell the truth while he does it?

If you appreciate an independent voice holding Montana politicians accountable and informing voters, and you can throw a few dollars a month our way, we would certainly appreciate it.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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  • To quote Mr. Rehberg: "…the nonpartisan Heritage Foundation…" But, when one goes to the Heritage Foundation website, they plainly lable themselves as CONSERVATIVE.
    Nonpartisan? Really?

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