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Will Sarah Palin's Energy Wisdom Be Contagious?

energy.jpgAlaska Governor May Bring Much-Needed Sobriety to White House Race
September 6, 2008
  CFIF

Whether you're a Republican or Democrat, the current election season has already seen its share of foolish, superficial and counterproductive policy positions from both sides.

Nowhere is this more true than with regard to the critical matter of energy policy. After all, despite burdensome fuel prices and ever-increasing dependence upon foreign oil, both major candidates continue to oppose domestic drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), they both bow to the false prophets of human-caused climate change and they both favor destructive carbon cap-and-trade legislation.

Now, along comes Alaska Governor Sarah Palin. And with her, the welcome opportunity to bring some much-needed sobriety to this campaign season.

The question now is whether the candidates, the chattering pundits and the voting public will follow her wisdom.

On the issue of domestic energy exploration and ANWR, Governor Palin is particularly well-positioned because of her Alaskan roots. Environmental extremists desperately attempt to characterize ANWR as some sort of pristine, scenic, spectacular nature preserve brimming with fragile animal populations and delicate beauty. People who have actually visited ANWR, however, know first-hand that it is a remote, barren, icy moonscape that is covered in darkness during winter and mosquito-infested swamps during summer. Furthermore, ANWR itself is the size of South Carolina, but only an area the size of Dulles International Airport would be drilled.

Governor Palin is one such person, which explains why she actively supports energy exploration and drilling there. As she stated so well in her speech before the Republican National Convention this week:

"When a hurricane strikes in the Gulf of Mexico, this country should not be so dependent on imported oil that we're forced to draw from our Strategic Petroleum Reserve. And families cannot throw more and more of their paychecks on gas and heating oil. With Russia wanting to control a vital pipeline in the Caucasus, and to divide and intimidate our European allies by using energy as a weapon, we cannot leave ourselves at the mercy of foreign suppliers. To confront the threat that Iran might seek to cut off nearly a fifth of the world's energy supplies, or that terrorists might strike again at the Abqaiq facility in Saudi Arabia, or that Venezuela might shut off its oil discoveries and deliveries of that source, Americans, we need to produce more of our own oil and gas.

"And take it from a gal who knows the North Slope of Alaska - we've got lots of both. Our opponents say again and again that drilling will not solve all of America's energy problems, as if we didn't know that already. But the fact that drilling won't solve every problem is no excuse to do nothing at all."

She is absolutely correct. Domestic drilling promises a secure, plentiful, reliable source of energy that will not only relieve burdened families, but reduce our dependence upon foreign oil as well. Senator McCain has learned from other past misjudgments on such things as tax cuts and the Second Amendment, and altered his position accordingly. Hopefully, naming Palin as his running mate will bring him around on this matter as well.

On the larger issue of climate alarmism, Governor Palin has also shown welcome leadership in the face of political correctness. This past May, the federal Interior Department foolishly listed the polar bear as "threatened," despite the fact that its population has increased during the past forty years. According to a study by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), scientists estimated that between 5,000 and 19,000 polar bears existed during the 1950s and 1960s. By 2005, according to the study, that population had increased to 20,000 to 25,000.

Ignoring this population increase, the Interior Department succumbed to environmental alarmists and bizarrely listed polar bears as "endangered." The Department rationalized this decision by speculating that alleged polar ice melts might someday lead to a population reduction, illustrating a classic case of putting the proverbial cart before the horse.

Opposing the Interior Department's designation, Governor Palin demonstrated responsible leadership even though it was politically unfashionable. Mere days after becoming Governor, Palin contacted Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne and expressed her opposition to the Department's atrocious decision.

Then, even before Senator John McCain chose her as his running mate, Governor Palin sued the federal government to challenge Interior's decision. As an avid outdoorswoman, she obviously sympathizes with efforts to protect polar bears. Demonstrating her wisdom, however, she also maintains that we must favor grounded science over trendy climate alarmism.

In this way, Governor Palin already brings a refreshing change to a political arena saturated with environmental foolishness. The question now is whether Senator McCain or Senator Obama wake up and smell the coffee on energy policy.
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