Monday, January 17, 2011

Governor Palin on the Issues: Energy Independence

As Doug mentioned last week, Governor Palin has been right on the rising cost of energy due in part to inflation. Couple that with the Obama administration's constant overregulation including an EPA revocation of a mining permit in West Virginia and oil prices climbing closer and closer to the triple digits, the importance of American energy independence and how government is involved in the energy sector becomes more and more apparent. There is no other politician who understands the need for energy independence better than Governor Palin. Because her comments on energy have been so extensive and the issue so complex, energy independence and energy regulation (particularly with regards to cap and trade and the effects of last year's oil spill) will be addressed in separate "Governor Palin on the Issues" posts. This post will focus on energy independence which provides affordable energy, jobs, and security to America.

Her record as Governor has spoken volumes about her knowledge of energy development. From 2003-2004, she served as an oil and gas commissioner. During her time as governor, when she also served as chair of the Interstate Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, she accomplished a great deal to increase energy development and help America become more energy independent. Contrary to what the likes of Dan Fagan, Craig Medred of the Alaska Dispatch, and Matt Zencey of the Huffington Post spout, the Alaska Clear and Equitable Shares legislation increased the number of oil wells drilled, provided tax credits that proved beneficial for both small and large oil companies, and brought oil company jobs to a record high. The Alaska Gasline Inducement Act that she championed is the largest private sector infrastructure project in North America history. Additionally, another one of her pieces of cornerstone legislation was the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act (AGIA) which has brought greater progress to a transcontinental natural gas pipeline than the administration's of the previous thirty years This past summer, BP-Conoco Phillips joined with Trans-Canada (the pipeline company) and ExxonMobil on the project, and the project received multiple bids to be shippers. These two key events continue to help the project continue on a more rapid trajectory than her predecessor had achieved through any projects or legislation they championed. In addition to development of fossil fuels, Governor Palin supported development of renewable energy sources as well, developing a plan to have 50% of Alaska's energy to be produced from renewable sources by the year 2025. Her gubernatorial accomplishments with regards to energy regulation will be addressed in a subsequent post.

Governor Palin has shown her keen understanding of how energy independence is an important component of protecting the American dollar as the global reserve currency and helping curb rising commodity prices:
The British newspaper The Independent reported today that Gulf oil producers were negotiating with Russia, China, Japan and France to replace the dollar in pricing oil with a basket of currencies.[1] According to the Wall Street Journal, Arab oil officials have denied the story, but even the possibility of such a talk weakens the dollar and renews fears about its continued viability as an international reserve currency.[2] In fact, today a United Nations official called for a new global reserve currency to replace the dollar and end our “privilege” to run up huge deficits.[3] We can see the effect of this in the price of gold, which hit a record high today in response to fears about the weakened dollar.[4]

All of this is a result of our out-of-control debt. This is why we need to rein in spending, and this is also why we need energy independence. A weakened dollar means higher commodity prices. This will make it more difficult to pay our bills – including the bill to import oil.

Governor Palin has famously been a staunch advocate for opening up drilling in ANWR on land, but she has been critical of the Obama administration's slothfulness in administering offshore drilling that would provide jobs and revenue in places like Virginia. She has also criticized bans to offshore drilling in Alaskan waters, the Gulf, and the Atlantic when other countries are ramping up development. While President Obama has ignored the implications of such bans, Governor Palin recognizes that increased development and energy independence will increase security, jobs, and revenue:
Today the president said he’ll “consider potential areas for development in the mid and south Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, while studying and protecting sensitive areas in the Arctic.” As the former governor of one of America’s largest energy-producing states, a state oil and gas commissioner, and chair of the nation’s Interstate Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, I’ve seen plenty of such studies. What we need is action — action that results in the job growth and revenue that a robust drilling policy could provide. And let’s not forget that while Interior Department bureaucrats continue to hold up actual offshore drilling from taking place, Russia is moving full steam ahead on Arctic drilling, and China, Russia, and Venezuela are buying leases off the coast of Cuba.

As an Alaskan, I’m especially disheartened by the new ban on drilling in parts of the 49th state and the cancellation of lease sales in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas. These areas contain rich oil and gas reserves whose development is key to our country’s energy security. As I told Secretary Salazar last April, “Arctic exploration and development is a slow, demanding process. Delays or major restrictions in accessing these resources for environmentally responsible development are not in the national interest or the interests of the State of Alaska.”

Additionally, she has warned that energy independence is needed to curb the dependence on energy provided by nations with ties to terrorism, such as Venezuela who has a cozy relationship with Iran. For the sake of both America's energy and physical securities, greater energy independence is necessary. Dependence upon foreign sources provides other nations with leverage in their dealing with the the United States:
Although the Left chooses to mock the mantra of “drill, baby, drill,” and they ignorantly argue against the facts pertaining to the need for America to responsibly develop her domestic supply of natural resources, surely they can’t argue the national security implications of relying on foreign countries to extract supplies that America desperately needs for industry, jobs, and security. Some of the countries we’re now reliant upon and will soon be beholden to can easily use energy and mineral supplies as a weapon against us.

As Governor Palin stated on the campaign trail in 2008 and continues to say today, she advocates for an "all of the above"approach to energy independence which includes solar, wind, nuclear, and clean coal in addition to the more traditional oil, gas, and coal. Beyond these sources, Governor Palin has shown prescience on new energy sources that are becoming more and more necessary with today's technology--rare earths--which are used in compact fluorescent light bulbs, hybrid cars, and other newer technologies. Governor Palin mentioned rare earths in an October Facebook post linking this article discussing rare earth mining in China and how the U.S. is behind the curve in domestic development of these resources. Domestic development of these rare earths will become increasingly important as China has decided to slash exports of rare earths 35% in the first half of 2011.

While the Obama administration's mantra seems to be "Ban, baby, ban", Governor Palin continues to advocate for drilling and domestic energy development of all available resources for the monetary, economic, energy, and physical security of America.

Previous "Governor Palin on the Issues" Posts:

Monetary Policy

Entitlement Programs

Top 10 Political and Policy Statements of 2010

Crossposted here, here, here, and here.

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