It was a surprise when Sarah Palin announced that she would step down as Governor of Alaska. But it isn’t so surprising that America’s biggest quitter doesn’t think Americans are up to the challenge of creating a clean energy economy supported by new industries, businesses and jobs.

In her first act as “What the…??”-in-Chief, Palin announced her intention to campaign against clean energy, saying in a guest editorial in yesterday’s Washington Post: “what is foremost on my mind and where my focus will be [is] President Obama’s cap and trade energy plan.”

Wow. If that’s what’s foremost on the mind of a Governor that just quit her job…I guess I’m back to being surprised.

Palin reviews all the reasons she is against the clean energy agenda. You’ve heard this recipe before. Start with three cups of well-kneaded numbers from the Heritage Foundation; add five or six hefty talking points from any brand of ExxonMobil front-group; slowly stir in 2 cups of tears from dirty energy executives lamenting the oncoming age of clean energy. Bring to a slow boil, stirring constantly.

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How did she come up with this recipe? Well, Sarah Palin is from Alaska, where “we understand the inherent link between energy and prosperity, energy and opportunity, and energy and security.” And the rest of us don’t, you see.

And the links Palin suggests we consume are made out of the three fossil-food groups: coal, oil and gas. As she puts it: “Many states have abundant coal…Westerners literally sit on mountains of oil and gas, and every state can consider the possibility of nuclear energy.”

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Ok, what I don’t understand is…how many Westerners can literally sit on a mountain of oil and gas? And how do they literally stay on top? But I digress.

Something Governor Palin doesn’t seem to understand is that her dirty energy entrée is spoiling prosperity/opportunity/security in Alaska. The US Global Climate Science program’s analysis of the impacts of global warming throughout the US – conducted under the Bush administration – documented that

  • Over the past 50 years, Alaska has warmed at more than twice the rate of the rest of the United States’ average. Its annual average temperature has increased 3.4°F, while winters have warmed by 6.3°F. The higher temperatures are already causing earlier spring snowmelt, reduced sea ice, widespread glacier retreat, and permafrost warming.
  • Warmer temperatures are already thawing Alaska’s permafrost, which threatens homes, and infrastructure. According to the report “Economists estimate that thawing permafrost will add billions of dollars in repair costs to public infrastructure.”
  • The combination of thawing permafrost and warmer temperatures are the likely cause of shrinking lakes across two-thirds of Alaska, lakes that are breeding grounds for waterfowl and shorebirds on which Alaska’s native people depend.
  • “The ground beneath some communities is literally crumbling into the sea. The rate of erosion along Alaska’s northeastern coastline has doubled over the past 50 years.”
  • “Fires are also increasing. By the end of this century, the area burned in Alaska is projected to triple under a moderate greenhouse gas emissions scenario and to quadruple under a higher emissions scenario.”

Now you’d think that as Governor, Sarah Palin must have noticed the melting permafrost, collapsing roads and buildings, villages falling into the sea, burning forests and so on. Apparently Governor Palin favors Baked Alaska.

As for the rest of us, if we want prosperity, opportunity, and security, clean energy is the right dish. We need to send Palin’s dirty energy entrée right back to the kitchen.

This post first appeared on Pete’s blog on NRDC’s Switchboard.