Sarah Palin: champion for Big Oil

With the choice of Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is not backing down from oil drilling. Palin is a champion for drilling, the Bush-Cheney approach to energy policy that brought us $4-per-gallon gasoline and the rising threat of global warming.

Like McCain, Palin believes that oil drilling is the only solution to our energy problems. “I beg to disagree with any candidate who would say we can’t drill our way out of our problem,” she says. [Investor’s Business Daily, July 13] She supports more drilling in protected areas of the Outer Continental Shelf and the Alaska Natural Wildlife Refuge, once attacking McCain for his “close-mindedness [sic] on ANWR.” [Kudlow’s Money Politics, Aug. 1]

But the Department of Energy believes that offshore drilling “would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030.” [Energy Information Administration, “Issues in Focus,” AEO2007] Moreover, about three-quarters of all the oil in public lands in the continental U.S. are already open to drilling – and yet only one quarter of this oil is under production. Opening the Arctic Refuge would cut gasoline prices by two cents in 17 years. For that, Palin would destroy the home of America’s native polar bears. Not even T. Boone Pickens still thinks we can drill our way out of this crisis. [Huffington Post, July 9]

Palin rejects clean renewable energy that is an alternative to oil. Earlier this month, she claimed that “alternative-energy solutions are far from imminent and would require more than 10 years to develop.” [Charleston Post & Courier, Aug. 16]

Alaska has become the “poster state” for the threat of global warming [USA Today, May 29, 2006] as the climate gets hotter and dryer and sea levels rise. More than 100 towns are vulnerable due to eroding sea lines. Polar bears are threatened by the melting ice flows, and this month bears were spotted swimming as much as 50 miles offshore. [NYT, Aug. 22]

Nonetheless, like many other oil champions, Palin is skeptical of global warming. During her gubernatorial campaign, she said she was unconvinced about how much human emissions contribute to current global warming trends. Palin also opposes listing our polar bears as a threatened species because it could require action on climate change. [Grist, May 22]

As Carl Pope of the Sierra Club says, “No one is closer to the oil industry than Governor Palin.” [Sierra Club Political Committee, Aug. 29] Sarah Palin has taken positions that would ensure a continuation of the Bush-Cheney energy policies. She supports drilling everywhere and ignores the need for binding reductions in global warming pollution even though her state is melting. The continuation of these policies will continue higher energy costs, more severe hurricanes and droughts, and despoiled natural treasures.

Daniel J. Weiss and James Kvaal of the Center for American Progress Action Fund for the Wonk Room at Think Progress

See our last posts on John McCain, the oil shock, climate change and petro-oligarchical rule.

  1. Interesting to see the bias
    Interesting to see the bias of this report.

    Does she completely reject alternative energy, or simply place it in proper context: that it will take years for alternatives to come online in any significant way?

    You say she and McCain believe drilling is the ONLY solution. She didn’t say that. Where is any evidence she believes that? The article linked quotes her as saying Alaska reserves can provide 5-7 years of supply.