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State Senator David Cappiello, the Republican candidate from Danbury who is challenging U.S. Rep. Chris Murphy in the fifth Congressional district, accused the freshman Democrat of flip-flopping on energy policy.

Cappiello and his campaign staff passed out black flip-flops Friday at the state Capitol to illustrate the contradictions Murphy made regarding his stance on off-shore oil drilling.

Earlier Friday afternoon, Murphy said he recently wrote a letter to Democratic leadership encouraging it to work with Republicans on an energy bill compromise. The compromise would allow oil companies to drill off-shore, something Republicans have wanted, but it would also include things on the Democratic agenda such as regulation of the futures market and the release of oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.

Cappiello called the letter to Democratic leadership an “election year gimmick.”

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Cappiello said his campaign has been consistent when it comes to its energy plan which includes lifting the ban on off-shore drilling, development of nuclear energy, investment in renewable fuels, and conservation measures.

Murphy said there are both short term and long term solutions to the energy crisis.

In the short term the “most effective way to drive down costs is to regulate the commodities market,” Murphy said. And in the long term, he said, the country has to stop relying so heavily on foreign oil and invest in more alternative forms of energy. However, Murphy noted that small government subsidies to develop those alternative forms of energy won’t be enough. “The market has to play a role,” he said.

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Cappiello, who has lead the debate in Connecticut on the gas tax, said by drilling and opening up more supply the price of oil will tumble.

U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Missouri, who hit the campaign trail with Cappiello Friday said when the President announced he was lifting the off-shore ban on drilling, it had an immediate impact on the markets.

Murphy said even if Congress gives the oil companies permission to drill off-shore, it will still take up to five years before they produce one drop of oil. He said the problem is oil companies have not invested in the equipment they need to explore.

Even worse, Blunt said, oil companies haven’t opened a new refinery since 1976. He said last year the United States had to import gasoline. “It’s a crippling thing for any economy,” Blunt said. He said the Republicans have proposed allowing the oil companies to use closed military bases to build new refineries.