10 Things to Know About Sarah Palin and Energy

Presumptive Republican nominee John McCain has selected Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, bringing to the GOP ticket a full-throated call to drill, drill, drill. What we’d like to see is a little more action on developing Alaska’s “huge supplies of renewable energy” she has referred to in her efforts to promote Alaskan natural gas.

Palin comes from the land of gas pipelines, oily indictments, ANWR and drowning polar bears. Here’s 10 things to know about McCain’s energetic V-P pick:

Standing Up to Big Oil: Serving as the ethics commissioner of Alaska’s Oil & Gas Commission, Palin built her reputation on cracking down on big oil and her fellow Republicans for corruption. As governor, she also successfully led a bipartisan tax levvy on big oil’s profits.

Doesn’t Believe An Inconvenient Truth?: In an interview for the upcoming issue of NewsMax, Palin said: “A changing environment will affect Alaska more than any other state, because of our location. I’m not one, though, who would attribute it to being man-made.”

Creation of Alaska’s Climate Change Sub-Cabinet: She might not be sure why the globe’s climate is changing, but Palin does recognize that her home state is thawing. Palin created the Climate Change Sub-Cabinet to consolidate the state’s knowledge on climate change and guide the state’s mitigation and adaptation policy. The Cabinet was also charged with exploring the state’s renewable energy potential, especially “geothermal, wind, hydroelectric, and tidal resources.”

Carbon Cap and Trade: Both McCain and Obama are calling for a cap-and-trade system on carbon. States are already establishing their own carbon markets, where futures trades have begun on the Northeast’s Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. The Western Climate Initiative is looking to follow suit, and though Alaska is not a member, Palin did sign the state on as an observer last year.

Drill, Drill, Drill: As governor of an oil-rich state, it’s no surprise Palin is in favor of domestic oil production. While McCain has reversed his position on drilling on the outer continental shelf (OCS), he has yet to call for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, which Palin refers to as “that little 2,000 acre plot.” But Palin thinks he’ll change his mind: “[McCain] came around on OCS….I anticipate the same with ANWR.”

Alaska Gasline Inducement Act (AGIA): After passing the state legislature with only one “nay,” Palin’s AGIA received just a single bid to build a gas pipeline from Alaska’s Northern Slope to the Lower 48. TransCanada will build and operate the $26 billion Alaska Highway Pipeline Project with $500 million in help from the state of Alaska.

Energy Rebate Check: Palin issued a press release praising Obama’s proposal for $1,000 energy rebate checks. She had proposed a $100-a-month energy debit card, but dropped that plan in favor of a $1,200 one-time special payment to eligible Alaskans, which she signed into law just this week.

Gas Tax Holiday: Alaska has some of the highest gasoline prices in the country and Palin signed into law a gas tax holiday, suspending the motor fuel tax on gasoline, marine fuel, and aviation fuel for one year. McCain and Clinton both were in favor of gas tax holiday while Obama claimed such a move was merely a “gimmick.”

Energy Efficiency, Conservation and Weatherization: The governor recently signed a proclamation declaring September as “Energy Efficiency Month” in Alaska. In May, Palin authorized the emergency distribution of $300 million from the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation — $200 million is being used to expand the AHFC’s weatherization program and the other $100 million will be distributed in rebates to homeowners making energy upgrades to their residences.

Pro-Offshore Oil, Anti-Polar Bear: Palin filed a lawsuit against Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne to reverse the decision to list the polar bear as a threatened species. Palin fears “extreme environmentalists” would use the Endangered Species Act to block offshore gas and oil exploration. Palin claims polar bears have survived earlier warming periods and that the current population is actually thriving.

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