U.S. Sen. Joseph Lieberman was in Cromwell Monday talking about the American Power Act, a bill that creates a market place for companies to trade carbon emissions, but he refused to wade into the recent dispute over energy policy between the two candidates vying to become his colleague in the Senate.

For weeks now the two senate candidates, Republican Linda McMahon and Democrat Richard Blumenthal, have been arguing back and forth over whether Blumenthal supports “cap-and-trade” which McMahon’s campaign has come to describe as a “national energy tax.” The McMahon campaign points to an Aug. 31, 2009 letter Blumenthal wrote with a handful of other attorney general’s to say his support for cap-and-trade is incontrovertible.

Lieberman, the junior soon-to-be senior senator from Connecticut, refused to be the arbitrator Monday when asked to settle the dispute.

“I’ve declared myself a non-combatant in the campaigns this year,” Lieberman said. “But to me the key is do the candidates for office recognize we have a problem that we’re much too dependent on foreign countries for energy and that climate change is real.”

Republicans in Washington and McMahon have been calling “cap-and-trade” a tax, but Lieberman doesn’t believe that’s fair.

“It’s not fair to say the cap and trade idea is a tax. It’s not a tax, it’s a market-based price,” Lieberman, who was once Al Gore’s running mate, said.

He said he’s not optimistic his bill will be taken up during the lame duck session in November because aside from suffering from “post-health care reform traumatic stress syndrome,” the debate is “tinged with gotcha politics.”

However, Lieberman, told a group of business leaders Monday that he thinks cap-and-trade and the creation of a free-market system for carbon credits is the best thing to create the flow of capital.

“I oppose cap-and-trade because it will increase energy costs and Connecticut already pays the highest electricity rates in the continental U.S.,” McMahon has said.

In her television advertisement against Blumenthal McMahon cites information from the Heritage Foundation as most of the reason she doesn’t support cap-and-trade, which she defines as a national energy tax. The Heritage Foundation research is based on the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 and not Lieberman’s American Power Act bill, introduced on May 12 of this year.

“To claim that I support a national energy tax is just false,” Blumenthal said last week of McMahon’s advertisements. “It’s based on phony numbers from a right-wing think-tank designed to scare people and protect the energy interests I have fought.”

“Cap-and-trade is dead. It died in the last Congress,” Blumenthal has said.

Check out the video to see more of his remarks from a Sept. 28 press conference.