For weeks now, GOP presidential candidate John McCain has been saying that in his administration, VP Sarah Palin would serve as energy czar, since she “knows more about energy than probably anyone else in the United States of America.”
For the first time since she was tapped as McCain’s running mate, Palin today gave an entire speech on “Achieving Strategic Energy Independence.” She delivered her remarks at the headquarters of Xunlight Corporation, a Toledo, Ohio-based solar energy start-up that develops flexible, thin-film silicon solar modules.
“The price of oil is declining largely because of the market’s expectation of a broad recession that would lower demand. This is hardly a good sign of things to come, and should only add to our sense of urgency in gaining energy independence,” said Palin. “When our economy recovers, and growth once again creates new demand, we could run into the same brick wall of rising oil and gasoline prices — and now is the time to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
Despite delivering the speech from the doorstep of a solar start-up, she didn’t talk much about what she’d do for solar, wind, or any other renewable energies. In fact, the only time these were mentioned at all was a single line, near the end of the speech: “To meet America’s great energy challenge, John and I will adopt an ‘all of the above’ approach. In our administration, that will mean harnessing alternative sources of energy, like wind and solar.”
It was near the end that she also name-dropped efficiency, conservation, and reducing emissions. “We will encourage Americans to be part of the solution by taking steps in their everyday lives that conserve more and use less,” she said. “And we will control greenhouse gas emissions by giving American businesses new incentives and new rewards to seek, instead of just giving them new taxes to pay and new orders to follow.”
The bulk of the speech, however, focused on increasing domestic oil and gas drilling, emphasizing that under a McCain administration, “we will drill here and drill now.”
“To confront the threat that Iran might seek to cut off nearly a fifth of world’s oil supplies, or that terrorists might strike at a vital refining facility in Saudi Arabia, or that Venezuela might shut off its oil deliveries, we Americans need to produce more of our own oil and gas,” she said.
Palin also lambasted Democrats Barack Obama and Joe Biden for opposing expanded drilling, claiming that concerns about environmental impacts are unfounded, and that drilling is actually better for the environment if done in the United States. “Usually, the answer we hear is that they fear environmental harm from domestic production, especially in the case of offshore drilling. But there’s a big problem here, even if we take their argument on its own terms,” said Palin. “Technology has made production far cleaner than was once thought possible — by use of such methods as horizontal drilling, carbon capture and storage, and enhanced recovery. And those cleaner, safer technologies are far likelier to be used in the United States and Canada than by China, India, or other developing nations.”
“Policies that forgo domestic production don’t protect our environment. They simply accelerate and reward dirtier and more dangerous methods of production elsewhere, in countries that apply few if any environmental safeguards,” she continued. “While our opponents like to posture as defenders of the environment, in practice their refusal to support more domestic production does more harm than good.”
And though she acknowledged that drilling “won’t solve every problem,” she said that’s “no excuse to do nothing at all.”
“No, we can’t ‘drill our way out of the problem’ entirely,” she said. “But this is America, the most resourceful country on earth, and we can drill, and refine, and mine, enrich, reprocess, invent, build, conserve, grow, and use every available means to regain our independence.”
She also emphasized expanding the use of nuclear power, developing “clean coal” technology, charging that Obama and Biden are against both (which isn’t exactly true).
Here’s the full text of the speech.
Thank you all very much. I appreciate the hospitality of Xunlight Energy, and all the people of Toledo. The folks at Xunlight are doing great work for this community and our country.
Every day, when there are no cameras around to draw attention to it, this company and others like it are engaged in the great enterprise of energy independence. And what we see here is just a glimpse of much bigger things to come. Solar power is one of many alternative energy sources that are changing our economy for the better. And one day they will change our economy forever.
All who work in pursuit of new and clean energy sources understand that America’s energy problems do not go away when oil and gasoline prices fall, as they have in recent weeks. Oil today is running about 64 dollars a barrel — less than half of what it was just a couple of months ago. And though this sudden drop in prices sure makes a difference for families across America, the dangers of our dependence on foreign oil are just as they were before.
The price of oil is declining largely because of the market’s expectation of a broad recession that would lower demand. This is hardly a good sign of things to come, and should only add to our sense of urgency in gaining energy independence. When our economy recovers, and growth once again creates new demand, we could run into the same brick wall of rising oil and gasoline prices — and now is the time to make sure that doesn’t happen. In Washington, we can view this period of lower oil prices as just one more chance to make excuses — and on the problem of energy security, we’ve heard enough excuses. Or we can view it as an opportunity to finally confront the problem.
In reality, volatile oil prices are just the most immediate consequence when foreign powers control our energy supplies. They are an economic symptom of a strategic problem. And prices will stabilize only when we have reached the great goal of energy security for America.
Achieving this objective will require a clean break not just from the energy policies of the current administration, but from thirty years’ worth of failed policies in Washington. As in other challenges that confront our nation, we must shape events, and not simply manage crises. We must steer far clear of the errors and false assumptions that have marked the energy policies of nearly twenty Congresses and seven presidents. Some tasks will be the work of decades, and some the work of years. And they all will begin in the term of the next president.
For our part, John McCain and I are determined to set this country firmly on a path toward energy independence. America has the resources to achieve this vital goal. We certainly have the ingenuity. And if John McCain and I are elected, we will supply the political will to finally get it done.
In my experiences in Alaska, I have seen what American ingenuity can achieve if given a chance. As governor of a huge energy-producing state, and as chair of our state’s oil and gas conservation commission, and chairman of the nation’s Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, I’ve also seen how political pressures, special interests, and corporate abuses can work against the clear public interest in expanding our domestic energy supplies.
Alaska is the one of the most resource-rich places on earth. Yet for many years, our state’s oil and gas wealth was the carefully guarded preserve of the political establishment — the good ol’ boys — rewarded by a few big oil companies and through an oil services company that liked things just the way they were. As you may have seen in the news this week, Alaska’s senior senator is not the first man to discover the hazards of getting too close to moneyed interests with agendas of their own.
For the people of Alaska and their representatives, it had been hard enough to persuade Congress to authorize construction of the original Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline. And when Congress finally acted in 1973, it approved the pipeline over the “No” votes of five senators, including a freshmen senator named Joe Biden.
For the next three decades, there had been talk of building another pipeline to transport cleaner, greener natural gas down to the Lower 48. But that’s all it ever amounted to — talk. And one of the main obstacles was big oil itself — ExxonMobil and other companies.
They should have been competing to invest in a new means of delivering their product to market. Instead, they wanted a higher price than fair competition would yield. They were holding out for more billions of dollars — in public money. No one in good conscience could pay them what they wanted to build that pipeline. And that’s how we found things when I became governor: No progress, no pipeline, no gas revenue for Alaska, no added energy security for America.
So we introduced the big oil companies and their lobbyists to a concept some of them had forgotten — free-market competition. They had a monopoly on power and resources, and we broke it.
The result is, finally, progress on the largest private-sector infrastructure project in North American history — a nearly forty billion dollar natural gas pipeline to help lead America to energy independence. When the last section is laid and its valves are opened, that pipeline will lead America one step farther away from reliance on foreign energy. That pipeline will be a lifeline — freeing us from debt, dependence, and the influence of foreign powers that do not have our interests at heart.
We’ve shaken things up in Juneau. Whatever the good ol’ boys are running these days, it’s not the State of Alaska. And that’s the kind of serious reform that we need in Washington, because the stakes for our country could not be higher.
Energy security is one of the great questions in this election. It tests our ability to confront and solve hard problems in Washington, instead of constantly putting things off. And it brings together so many other issues — from the value of our pay checks to our nation’s most vital interests abroad. Americans blame Washington for doing next to nothing about our energy problems, and they are right.
Abroad, we see Russia with designs on a vital pipeline in the Caucasus. Its strategy is to divide and intimidate our European allies by using energy as a weapon. And there, as elsewhere, we cannot leave ourselves at the mercy of foreign suppliers.
To confront the threat that Iran might seek to cut off nearly a fifth of world’s oil supplies … or that terrorists might strike at a vital refining facility in Saudi Arabia … or that Venezuela might shut off its oil deliveries … we Americans need to produce more of our own oil and gas.
In the worst cases, some of the world’s most oil-rich nations are also the most oppressive societies. And whether we like it or not, the money we pay for their oil only makes them more powerful and more oppressive. Oil wealth allows undemocratic governments to crush dissent and to subjugate women. Other regimes use it to finance terrorists around the world and criminal syndicates in our own hemisphere.
By relying upon oil from the Middle East, we not only provide wealth to the sponsors of terror — we provide high-value targets to the terrorists themselves. Across the world are pipelines, refineries, transit routes, and terminals for the oil we rely on. And Al Qaeda terrorists know where they are.
As if all this weren’t bad enough, there is also the damage that our dependence on foreign oil inflicts on our economy. Over the years, trillions of dollars have flowed out of our country, often to nations or regimes hostile to our country. Through this massive transfer of wealth, we lose hundreds of billions of dollars a year that would be better invested in American enterprises to create American jobs.
All of this explains why, as Senator McCain has said, energy security is not just one more issue on the candidate questionnaire. Energy security is the sum total of so many problems that confront our nation. It demands of us that we shake off old ways, negotiate new hazards, and make hard choices long deferred. And three decades of partisan paralysis on energy security is enough. It’s time we meet this challenge in a way consistent with the character of our nation, and that starts with producing more of our own energy.
In a McCain administration, we will authorize and support new exploration and production of America’s own oil and gas reserves — because we cannot outsource the solution to America’s energy problem. Every year, we are sending hundreds of billions of dollars out of the country for oil imports, much of it from OPEC, while America’s own oil and gas reserves in America go unused. And take it from a gal who knows the North Slope of Alaska: we’ve got lots of both.
As a matter of fairness, we must assure affordable fuel for America by producing more of the trillions of dollars’ worth of our oil and natural gas. On land and offshore, we will drill here and drill now!
Another essential means to energy independence is a dramatic expansion in our use of nuclear energy. In a McCain administration, we will set this nation on a course to build 45 new reactors by the year 2030. And we will set the goal of 100 new plants to power the homes and factories and cities of America.
This task will be as difficult as it is necessary. We will need to recover all the knowledge and skills that have been lost over three stagnant decades in a highly technical field. We will need to solve complex problems of moving and storing materials that will always need safeguarding. We will need to do all of these things, and do them right, as we have done great things before.
One of the efforts that will assist in securing our energy future is the development of clean-coal technology. And here we have another big disagreement with our opponents. Last month Joe Biden told a voter — and I quote — “we’re not supporting clean coal.” He says clean coal’s a good idea for China — but sorry, Ohio, Joe Biden says it’s not for you.
That’s just nonsense, and there’s plenty more of it in Senator Biden’s record. He’s against drilling off our coasts, for environmental reasons. But he says that offshore drilling holds real promise for the island nation of Cyprus — as if the environmental safeguards of the Cypriots are more rigorous than our own. And so far as he and Senator Obama are concerned, nuclear power’s okay, too — but only for France and other European nations. Our opponents seem to have all sorts of solutions for the energy needs of other nations — now if only they’d focus more on what America needs.
It’s worth asking why Senators Obama and Biden are opposed to the very same production methods in America that they advocate for other nations. Usually, the answer we hear is that they fear environmental harm from domestic production, especially in the case of offshore drilling. But there’s a big problem here, even if we take their argument on its own terms. Technology has made production far cleaner than was once thought possible — by use of such methods as horizontal drilling, carbon capture and storage, and enhanced recovery. And those cleaner, safer technologies are far likelier to be used in the United States and Canada than by China, India, or other developing nations.
So policies that forego domestic production don’t protect our environment. They simply accelerate and reward dirtier and more dangerous methods of production elsewhere, in countries that apply few if any environmental safeguards. While our opponents like to posture as defenders of the environment, in practice their refusal to support more domestic production does more harm than good.
As for our coal resources, America has more coal than the oil riches of Saudi Arabia. Burning coal cleanly is a challenge of practical problem-solving and human ingenuity — and we have no shortage of those in America either. So, in a McCain administration, we will commit two billion dollars each year, until 2024, to clean-coal research, development, and deployment. We will refine the techniques and equipment. We will deliver not only electricity but jobs to some of the areas hardest hit by our economic troubles.
And in the end, with or without the green light from Joe the Six-Term Senator, we will make clean coal a reality. For the sake of our nation’s security and our prosperity, we need American energy resources, brought to you by American ingenuity, and produced by American workers.
To meet America’s great energy challenge, John and I will adopt an “all of the above” approach. In our administration, that will mean harnessing alternative sources of energy, like wind and solar. We will end subsidies and tariffs that drive prices up, and provide tax credits indexed to low automobile carbon emissions. We will encourage Americans to be part of the solution by taking steps in their everyday lives that conserve more and use less. And we will control greenhouse gas emissions by giving American businesses new incentives and new rewards to seek, instead of just giving them new taxes to pay and new orders to follow.
On energy policy, our opponents are always talking about things we cannot do, because our own government won’t let us. When you look over the energy plans of Barack Obama and his allies in Congress, it’s just a long, labored agenda of inaction. And it’s the same agenda of inaction we could expect under the one-party rule of Obama, Pelosi, and Reid. They’re always talking about things we can’t do in America, energy we can’t produce, refineries we can’t build, plants we can’t approve, coal we cannot use, technologies we cannot master. As John McCain has observed, for a guy’s who’s slogan is “Yes, we can,” Barack Obama’s energy plan sure has a whole lot of “No we can’t.”
Again and again, our opponents say that drilling will not solve all of America’s energy problems — as if we all didn’t know that already. But the fact that drilling won’t solve every problem is no excuse to do nothing at all.
No, we can’t “drill our way out of the problem” entirely. But this is America, the most resourceful country on earth, and we can drill, and refine, and mine, enrich, reprocess, invent, build, conserve, grow, and use every available means to regain our independence.
The mission of energy security will demand great things of our country. It will require commitment, resolve, and political courage. And John McCain is a man who knows something about hard missions, about overcoming dangers and keeping faith with his country. The stakes are high, and complete success will not come quickly. But I can promise you this: Unless we begin this mission now, the only change we’ll see is a change for the worse. And when we do succeed in the hard work ahead, our children will live in a more prosperous country, in a more peaceful world. Thank you all very much, and God bless America.