Although talk of the economy predictably dominated President Barack Obama’s news conference last night, his persistent focus has been health care, education and energy. Cap and trade to reduce carbon dioxide and clean energy investment were again the center of attention:

When it comes to cap-and-trade, the broader principle is that we’ve got to move to a new energy era, and that means moving away from polluting energy sources towards cleaner energy sources. That is a potential engine for economic growth.”

As for cap and trade, let’s take a trip down memory lane.

Speaking about cap and trade on the campaign trail in January of 2008, when the economy wasn’t nearly as bad, President Obama told the San Francisco Chronicle, “Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket.”

On the same issue last night, the President said, “The way it’s structured has to take into account regional differences. It has to protect consumers from huge spikes in electricity prices. So there are a lot of technical issues that are going to have to be sorted through.”

While no conversion rate for “skyrocketing” to “huge spikes” currently exists, we’ll assume they pretty much mean the same thing: energy prices will be considerably higher under any carbon reduction scheme. And it’s not just electricity. Home heating oil, natural gas and gasoline prices will all see increases. Even under the most generous assumption (technologies like carbon capture and sequestration come on board sooner than projected), our analysis of the Lieberman-Warner cap and trade bill found that average household energy costs were $8,870 higher over the period 2012 through 2030 as a result of the bill.

And this is a potential engine for economic growth? It sounds like something that will continue to hurt our sputtering economic engine, and all for little, if any, environmental benefit.