Head Scratcher of the Week: Sarah Palin Speaks at Solar Panel Manufacturer, Promotes Fossil Fuels


photo: McCain-Palin 2008

In case you missed it, Sarah Palin gave a speech on energy policy yesterday at the Xunlight Corporation in Toledo, Ohio. In the speech she called for a break from the Bush administration's energy policy. Too bad the break from policy that she and John McCain advocate really doesn't move us towards a greener renewable energy future, nor towards meaningful energy security.

Frankly, though her rhetoric on energy at Xunlight is little different than what's been said so far on the campaign trail—check out Palin's prepared remarks and how she made ad lib modifications—she really amped up the confusion with some of her statements:Our Opponents Don't Get Energy Security

Energy security is one of the great questions in this election. Sometimes I think that it's no wonder that our opponents don't wanna talk a whole lot about this, because they don't get it. It doesn't seem that they understand that we have the ingenuity and the domestic solutions right here. They don't wanna talk about it. But it tests our ability to confront and solve hard problems in Washington, instead of constantly takin' the easy way out and just putting the problem off for later. And it brings together so many other issues also — from the value of our pay checks to our nation's most vital interests abroad. Americans blame Washington for doing next to nothing about our energy problems, and on that front, they are right. The American public is right when they understand that not enough has been done in D.C. to get us off the path that we're on, put us on a better path.

Sounds wonderful, right? Domestic energy security. The trouble is that with all the emphasis that the McCain-Palin campaign has placed on new nuclear plants and offshore oil drilling, it drastically shortchanges the only true way whereby the United States (or any nation) can achieve lasting energy security and independence, by developing renewable energy sources. I won't reprint the ever-popular graph of how much more fossil fuel we gain by pulling out all the stops on offshore oil drilling, but its miniscule.

Expanding domestic oil and natural gas production—let's make it clear that that's what Palin's talking about—will do nothing in terms of improving US energy independence or security. Demand is so high that we will still have to import the vast, vast majority of our fuel. Again, only by expanding domestic renewable energy sources like wind, solar and geothermal can we actually create a lasting energy independence.

Every time John McCain or Sarah Palin talk about domestic energy security and expanded domestic fossil fuel production in the same breath, they are simply obfuscating.

Not Producing More Domestic Fossil Fuels Harms the Environment

So policies that forego domestic production don't protect our environment. They simply accelerate and reward dirtier and more dangerous methods of production elsewhere, in countries that apply few if any environmental or workplace safeguards. While our opponents like to posture as defenders of the environment, in practice their refusal to support more domestic production does nothing more than harm, it ultimately harms the environment. It doesn't do any good.

Whoa! This one's so far off the wall I can't believe it could be said with a straight face. Let me get this straight: Not expanding domestic production of fossil fuels (again, that's what's being talked about first and foremost here) is harmful...wait for it...to the environment. How one can connect dirtier production of fuels in other countries and not expanding domestic fossil fuel production to not protecting the environment within the United States is simply ludicrous. This is one of the closest things to Orwellian doublespeak I have heard from the McCain-Palin campaign.

Obama-Biden Campaign is About "No we can't"

They're always talking about things that we cannot do in America, stifling the entrepreneurial spirit with more government control saying to the American public why we can't do something, why we can't produce, and why refineries can't build, and why we can't approve more plants, and coal why we cannot use that, why we cannot master new technology. And As John McCain has observed, for a guy's who's slogan is Yes, we can, Barack Obama's energy plan sure has a whole lot of No we can't.

A brief fact check: The Obama-Biden campaign has actually expressed support for many of the things which Palin accuses them of saying no to. They repeatedly talk about clean coal, expanding nuclear energy (with safety safe guards), and even have expressed sentiments not entirely opposed to offshore oil drilling at times. So they actually don't say no to some of the same things that McCain and Palin say yes to.

However the thing that they do emphatically say yes to (and clearly and properly prioritize much higher than does the McCain-Palin ticket) is that renewable energy must be the foundation of the energy future in the United States.

So if anything, the thing which Barack Obama has said no to is a status quo mentality which fails to recognize that the future is in renewable energy first and foremost, and that while fossil fuels may have to play a subsidiary role for longer than we like, they are all of a different era.

And if anything, the thing which Sarah Palin continues to advocate for, even more strongly than does John McCain, though clearly he too supports the position, is an outdated modality which views fossil fuel as the go-to choice in energy production. The fact that Palin spoke at a company which manufactures thin-film solar panels hardly changes the fact that she apparently firmly believes that "alternative energy solutions are far from imminent and would require more than 10 years to develop."

transcript via: Think Progress
2008 Elections
Note to Sarah Palin: The Cause of Global Warming Does Matter
My Bottom Line is Green: McCain v Obama on Renewable Energy
Scraping the Bottom of the Barrel: McCain v Obama on Offshore Oil Drilling & ANWR
It's Still a Dirty Business: McCain v Obama on Clean Coal
The Nuclear Option: McCain v Obama on Nuclear Power

Tags: 2008 Elections | Energy | Nuclear Power | Oil | Renewable Energy | United States