If you google “Palin ‘energy expert,'” you’ll find more than 10,000 hits. It’s no surprise that conservative shills like George Pataki and Haley Barbour use that label — heck, a major conservative talking point is that she’s a foreign-policy expert because “Alaska is the closest part of our continent to Russia,” as Cindy McCain put it. Conservatives are desperate to inflate the resume of this partially vetted semi-qualified VP choice.
But it is outrageous for CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo to say on Meet the Press, “I think the biggest value she brings to the ticket is her expertise in energy.” What Palin is primarily knowledgeable about is drilling for oil in Alaska, which, of course, Senator McCain opposes — so she is “expert” in the one area that is utterly irrelevant to a McCain administration. But the larger point for the media is that she is knowledgeable on only one small and largely irrelevant subset (Alaska) of two types of energy (oil and gas).
And “knowledgeable” is a generous word for someone who said in July, "I beg to disagree with any candidate who would say we can’t drill our way out of our problem.” That absurd claim makes of her not even an oil expert, but an oil shill. I guess she has missed all those ads from billionaire oilman T. Boone Pickens, who keeps saying, “I’ve been an oil man all my life, but this is one emergency we can’t drill our way out of.” And, oddly enough, she doesn’t read this blog.
Shill may be putting it mildly. Palin has said that new multibillion-dollar fossil fuel infrastructure in Alaska is “God’s will.” She has said:
I can do my part in doing things like working really, really hard to get a natural gas pipeline — about a $30 billion project that’s going to create a lot of jobs for Alaskans and will have a lot of energy flowing through here — and pray about that also. I think God’s will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas line built, so pray for that.
If God listens to prayers for building oil infrastructure, it is safe to say I’m in the wrong religion. I guess we can add theologian to her growing list of areas of expertise. But, of course, renewable energy is not on the list:
Alternative-energy solutions are far from imminent and would require more than 10 years to develop.
Uhh, no. Even Pickens thinks we can get 20 percent of our electricity from wind power alone in 10 years. Renewables — and efficiency — are ready now, unlike new coastal drilling resources.
And, of course, in the 21st century, it is inconceivable that anyone could earn the label “energy expert” if she or he denies that humans are changing the climate.
The one area of expertise in energy she really has shown is how to waste it on behalf of her constituents by building earmarked infrastructure. And in that she may well be the world’s foremost authority.
Palin delivered a staggering $4,000 per person in federal earmarks to her tiny town in a span of four years as mayor. Now that is a non-reformer with results. If she replicated that nationwide as vice president — and who among us couldn’t use another $4000 in stuff — that would be more than a trillion dollars in earmarks.
Finally, as the Anchorage Daily News reported on Sunday in “Palin touts stance on ‘Bridge to Nowhere,’ doesn’t note flip-flop”: “Palin was for the Bridge to Nowhere before she was against it.” Plus, the state kept the money and “is continuing to build a road on Gravina Island to an empty beach where the bridge would have gone — because federal money for the access road, unlike the bridge money, would have otherwise been returned to the federal government.”
We need to completely redirect our transportation infrastructure funding from pointless roads and bridges to high-speed trains and mass transit.
Bottom line for the media reporting on her big speech tonight and in future stories on the Alaska Governor: Sarah Palin is an earmark expert, not an energy expert.
For a related article, see Thomas Friedman’s “And Then There Was One” in yesterday’s New York Times:
With his choice of Sarah Palin — the Alaska governor who has advocated drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and does not believe mankind is playing any role in climate change — for vice president, John McCain has completed his makeover from the greenest Republican to run for president to just another representative of big oil.
Given the fact that Senator McCain deliberately avoided voting on all eight attempts to pass a bill extending the vital tax credits and production subsidies to expand our wind and solar industries, and given his support for lowering the gasoline tax in a reckless giveaway that would only promote more gasoline consumption and intensify our addiction to oil, and given his desire to make more oil-drilling, not innovation around renewable energy, the centerpiece of his energy policy — in an effort to mislead voters that support for drilling today would translate into lower prices at the pump today — McCain has forfeited any claim to be a green candidate.
This post was created for ClimateProgress.org, a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund.