Muckraker: Grist on Politics

McCain VP pick Sarah Palin has a record of being both a friend and foe of Big Oil in her home state of Alaska. But she’s also made a point of voicing support for renewable and “clean” energy sources. Flashback one week to Palin’s big convention speech in St. Paul: “Starting in January, in a McCain-Palin administration, we’re going to lay more pipelines, build more nuclear plants, create jobs with clean coal, and move forward on solar, wind, geothermal, and other alternative sources.”

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free.

As governor, she promised enviros in her state that she’s going to come out with a comprehensive energy plan, and even appointed someone to head up that mission. But her actions as governor are a mixed bag when it comes to supporting renewables. In 2007, Palin vetoed $20 million in state money to support the Fire Island Wind Farm Project, before this year allowing it to move forward. At the same time, she vetoed $268 million in budget items this year, including other wind and energy projects. The same budget included $2 million for an controversial conference intended to “highlight arguments that global warming isn’t threatening the survival of polar bears.” Palin herself has argued against listing the polar bear as endangered, rejecting the recommendations of state and national biologists.

Meanwhile, a number of renewable projects in the state are stalled due to a lack of funding. And as the Anchorage Daily News points out, the $1,200 checks for “energy relief” that Palin ensured would be handed out to every resident of the state last year totaled $700 million. That could cover nearly half of the $1.5 billion price tag for a hydropower project currently under consideration in Lake Chakachamna, which could move the state toward clean, home-grown energy.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

This year, everyone in the state is getting $2,069 from the state’s oil royalties fund, as well as another $1,200 from the state treasury to help offset high fuel prices.