Palin’s Big Energy Policy Speech More of the Same

  • Published on October 29th, 2008

sarah palin and oil pipeline

[social_buttons]On Wednesday morning, Sarah Palin gave her second policy speech as Republican candidate for vice-president. Speaking at Xunlight Corporation, a thin-film solar PV manufacturing company in Toledo, Ohio, Palin did not present any new ideas or policy proposals on energy. Rather, Palin spoke about her qualifications to lead on the energy issue, citing her time as governor and her experience serving on the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

Calling Wednesday morning’s address ‘a major energy policy speech,’ is a stretch, to say the least. The speech was thoroughly infused with the familiar political rhetoric that rehashes the Alaska Governor’s now tired pleas for the increased production of fossil fuels, blames Democrats for our current energy situation and toots her own horn for taking on the old-boy, moneyed interests of big oil.

The irony that Palin was speaking at a solar cell manufacturing facility was particularly striking because she hardly mentioned anything but oil and gas. As The Washington Post reports, “While a sign declaring “Creating Green Collar Jobs for Ohio” festooned the hall in which Palin delivered her address, she only made a passing reference to the tour she took this morning of the small solar panel manufacturing facility.” And those passing references, were usually in the larger context of oil and gas.

“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 sixty-four 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. It is just as great a threat.”

The calling card for Palin and the Republicans has traditionally been to define energy as oil and gas, and to define everything else as “alternatives.” On Wednesday, Palin spoke of fossil fuels with what appeared to be a longing reverence while recounting her experience in Alaska. “Ever since I grew up I heard about this dream for a natural gas pipeline,” she said.

While Palin publicly endorsed John McCain’s support for a federal cap on greenhouse gas emissions, she indicated in today’s speech that a McCain-Palin administration would give energy suppliers a wealth of tax breaks and subsidies rather than simply mandate lower carbon emissions.

“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,” she said.

In a response released by the Obama campaign, Ohio governor Ted Strickland, criticized McCain’s proposal to cut corporate income tax rates, which he said would benefit the companies who trade in middle eastern oil.

“In a bit of rare straight talk, Sarah Palin attacked her own running mate’s record today by blaming our oil addiction on 30 years of failure’ in Washington,” Strickland said. “John McCain was there for twenty-six of those years, during which he voted against alternative sources of energy and stood with oil industry lobbyists instead.”

Palin’s policy speech recounted the energy independence theme she has been hammering at for the last several months. A theme she also touched on while introducing John McCain at a campaign stop in Hershey, Pennsylvania on Tuesday.

“In our administration, we will set this nation firmly on a course of energy independence and we will drill here and we will drill now. Drill baby drill! You betcha, we will drill baby drill and we’ll mine baby mine because we need American energy resources brought to you by American ingenuity and produced by American workers.”

While the theme of energy independence resonates with a lot of people, the way it is framed by Gov. Palin and many Republicans appears to be completely bereft of any environmental consideration whatsoever. The discourse of energy independence need not be owned by the ‘more baby more’ philosophy of natural resource use.

Image: Mike Licht via flickr under a Creative Commons License

About the Author

is the founder of ecopolitology and the executive editor at LiveOAK Media, a media network about the politics of energy and the environment, green business, cleantech, and green living. When not reading, writing, thinking or talking about environmental politics with anyone who will listen, Tim spends his time skiing in Colorado's high country, hiking with his dog, and getting dirty in his vegetable garden.