The national press has focused significant attention on Sarah Palin’s recent interview with Bill O’Reilly relating to energy and the BP oil spill. For two days the postings on this blog have focused on Palin’s absurd suggestion that the solution to the BP spill was to build dikes to contain the oil. However little or no attention has been focused on Palin’s suggestion that President Obama should adopt a “three-legged-stool” approach to energy. The first couple of times I listened to the interview I dismissed her comments as just a new kind of word salad she was serving up. Upon reflection her reference to the “three legged stool” approach to the energy crisis may constitute yet another example of the “Maiden of Misinformation” attempting to create the impression that she is something that she is not, and knows something about which she speaks.
In Going Rogue, Palin outlined her “three-legged stool” approach at an energy conference in Texas, holding out Alaska as an example of a state that was meeting the energy needs of the country (Palin 194). The three legs of the stool were: (1) conservation, (2) responsible development, and (3) renewable energy sources. It was this same metaphor that Palin used in her interview with Bill O’Reilly. For a minute forget Palin’s absurd solution to the Gulf oil spill, forget Palin’s total absence of any education regarding energy, and disregard Palin’s resignation from the Alaska Oil & Gas Commission after less than even one year of service. Consider the stool upon which Palin sits.
During the limited time Palin served as Governor, she fired the entire Board of Agriculture and Conservation.
In June of 2009, before Palin’s resignation, the United States Supreme Court handed down a ruling in the case of Coeur Alaska, Inc. v. Southeast Alaska Conservation Council. This was a suit brought by environmental groups citing the Clean Water Act as the basis for objection to dumping of 4.5 million tons of pollutants into the Lower Slate Lake, located 3 miles away from the Tongass National Forest. Sarah Palin “welcomed the ruling calling it a green light for responsible resource development.” Environmental groups voiced strong objection to the dumping indicating that the material dumped included aluminum, lead and mercury. The only conclusion is that Palin views dumping of 4.5 million tons of pollutants as “responsible resource development”.
President Jimmy Carter established the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) setting aside 28% of Alaska as wilderness.
Palin supports drilling in ANWR.
Palin favored lifting a moratorium on offshore drilling.
Palin opposed protections for salmon from mining contamination.
Palin filed suit against the US government to stop listing polar bears as endangered.
Palin offered a bounty of $150.00 for each left front leg of a freshly killed wolf.
Palin used $400,000 of state money to fund a propaganda campaign in support of aerial hunting.
Palin believes man-made global warming is a farce.
Palin is a champion for big oil, suggesting that we should “drill, baby, drill!”
The most compelling information regarding Palin’s approach to “Responsible Development” can be found by reading information set forth in an entire web site: http://www.finebergresearch.com/.
Richard A. Fineberg is a freelance investigative journalist specializing in issues related to petroleum development. He lives in Ester, Alaska and writes articles for such journals as Petroleum News, reports for the U.S. Congress and the Alaska State Legislature, and for environmental organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund, the Northern Alaska Environmental Center, and others. Mr. Fineberg was an oil and gas analyst who consulted with Palin’s administration during 2007 and 2008. . Feinberg is quoted as saying:
“Based on my first-hand experience, I can tell you that Sarah Palin is misinforming the public on ACES (Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share-one of three pieces of legislation for which she takes credit.)-as she does on many other issues”.
The number of “accidents” and “spills” in Alaska is a clear indication of Palin’s total failure of “responsible development”. On Dec. 23, a tugboat hit the Bligh Reef (the same reef Exxon Valdez hit 20 yrs ago); on Nov. 28 there was a spill at a refinery in the town of North Pole; and on Nov. 29th, there was a large spill on the North Slope. The risk of environmental damage in Alaska is not only real, but it has happened in the last few months. As long as people believe what Palin says, instead of considering what she has actually done, the risk of damage to our country is not only predictable, but happening daily in Alaska.
However the most offensive example of Palin’s total lack of concern about “responsible development” is illustrated by the incidence of birth defects in Alaska. Alaska has a birth defect rate that is TWICE the national average. Over the last 20 years, scientists have proved that exposure to some metals and chemicals cause birth defects and permanent developmental disorders. In Alaska toxic byproducts of mining and energy development, such as arsenic, mercury, and lead are particular problems. Alaskan natives, such as the Inuit people, eat a diet that is heavy in fish, seals, and whales which are all more likely to be contaminated by high doses of PCBs and mercury. Moreover, the North Slope, the location of the largest oil production in Alaska, and coincidentally the place where Todd Palin worked, has the highest prevalence of birth defects in the state, 11% compared to 6% in Alaska as a whole, and 3% nationwide. Given Sarah Palin’s position on abortion, and her “special needs” son, we would anticipate that Palin would be a strong advocate for “responsible development”. Sadly she is not!
Renewable Energy Sources:
Alaska ranks second in the nation in crude oil production if offshore oil production is not considered. The Prudhoe Bay on Alaska’s North Slope is the highest yielding oil field in the United States, producing 264,000 barrels per day. Alaska’s electricity infrastructure differs from the lower 48 States in that most consumers are not linked to large interconnected grids through transmission and distribution lines. Rural communities rely primarily on diesel electric generators for power. Alaska has no energy from nuclear sources. Alaska has no ethanol plants and only 0.3% of the alternative-fueled vehicles in use in the United States.
Palin promotes herself as the savior of America’s energy security through “responsible development” (Palin 194). Whether through building dikes, killing wildlife, promoting the dumping of toxic waste, or overlooking the devastating effects of toxic spills and environmental disasters, Sarah Palin is herself an environmental disaster. The incontrovertible conclusion is that Palin’s stool is irreparably broken. Either she doesn’t realize the stool is broken, or she doesn’t mind sitting in the midst of the toxic waste.