Palin Argues for More Drilling in Energy Policy Speech
Updated 11:41 a.m.
By Juliet Eilperin
TOLEDO, Ohio -- Lower oil prices shouldn't curb America's drive to drill domestically, GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin argued in a speech this morning.
The Alaska governor -- who spoke at a solar panel company, Xunlight Corp. -- said America needs to boost its domestic energy production even though oil and gas is cheaper now than it was a few months ago. While she was speaking at a renewable energy facility, Palin devoted most of her remarks to touting traditional forms of energy exploration such as drilling and mining.
"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."
Oil prices are dropping because of the current economic slowdown, Palin said, and a future uptick could lead to the same energy crunch the world has experienced in recent years.
"When our economy recovers, and growth once again creates new demand, we could run into the same brick wall of rising oil and gasoline prices -- and now is the time to make sure that doesn't happen," she said. "In Washington, we can view this period of lower oil prices as just one more chance to make excuses -- and on the problem of energy security, we've heard enough excuses. Or we can view it as an opportunity to finally confront the problem."
Palin also used her speech to attack convicted Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), whose resignation she has called for, and her political opponents in the U.S. and abroad.
"Alaska is the one of the most resource-rich places on earth. Yet for many years, our state's oil and gas wealth was the carefully guarded preserve of the political establishment -- the good ol' boys -- rewarded by a few big oil companies and through an oil services company that liked things just the way they were," she said. "As you may have seen in the news this week, Alaska's senior senator is not the first man to discover the hazards of getting too close to moneyed interests with agendas of their own."
She also criticized Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden, noting that Alaska and its officials had a hard time persuading "Congress to authorize construction of the original Trans-Alaska Oil Pipeline. And when Congress finally acted in 1973, it approved the pipeline over the 'No' votes of five senators, including a freshmen senator named Joe Biden."
By contrast, Palin portrayed herself as a reformer who has pushed aggressively to create a new natural gas pipeline in Alaska. In brokering the pipeline contract, she recalled: "We introduced the big oil companies and their lobbyists to a concept some of them had forgotten -- free-market competition. They had a monopoly on power and resources, and we broke it. The result is, finally, progress on the largest private-sector infrastructure project in North American history -- a nearly forty-billion dollar natural gas pipeline to help lead America to energy independence."
"When the last section is laid and its valves are opened, that pipeline will lead America one step farther away from reliance on foreign energy," she said, prompting applause from the audience. "That pipeline will be a lifeline -- freeing us from debt, dependence and the influence of foreign powers that do not have our interests at heart."
Palin suggested that foreign energy suppliers, such as Russia and Venezuela, cannot be trusted. Saying that Russian has its eye on the gas pipeline in the Caucuses, "Wouldn't they love to control that entire pipeline? Its strategy is to divide and intimidate our European allies by using energy as a weapon. And there, as elsewhere, we cannot leave ourselves at the mercy of foreign suppliers."
The Alaska governor also touted the virtues of nuclear power, coal mining and burning, and questioned why Democrats would support other countries pursuing traditional forms of energy exploration while opposing this approach at home.
"So policies that forgo domestic production don't protect our environment," she said. "It ultimately harms out environment."
Biden and Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, Palin argued, don't realize how easy it is to minimize the impact of drilling for gas and oil and burning coal. "Again, they don't get it, they need to understand the science that's behind the technology today."
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 plenty 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 declared.
While Palin said she knows "drilling won't solve all of America's energy problems," she added that was no excuse not to expand our drilling for oil and gas in Alaska and elsewhere.
"God has so richly blessed our land with the supplies we need," she said, despite the fact that the U.S. lacks enough domestic oil and gas reserves to meet its current energy demand.
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. During the tour Palin seemed impressed with the display that Xunlight's CEO Xunming Deng put on for her.
Deng held the purple-colored panels out for Palin's inspection, telling her, "Lightweight solar panels like this are extremely flexible and easy to install so they're low-cost."
"Yeah! Good!" Palin exclaimed as she stroked the panel in question.
Deng, who showed off the panels along with his wife, Liwei Xu, the company's co-founder and vice president of finance, noted the company was a spin-off of the University of Toledo and had received "a tremendous amount of federal government, state and local support" along with $40 million in start-up funds from venture capitalists.
When Deng told Palin that the technology had been "created at the University of Toledo" she replied, "Good," and patted his hand.
As Palin, Deng and Xu made their way to the second station, Todd Palin joined them, and they examined yet another, similar-looking solar panel. Bending the panel yet again, Deng told the governor, "Think of a panel this large that's glass, you couldn't bend it. This is flexible."
"Yeah, that's perfect," Palin replied.
Concluding the tour, Palin told Deng, "I'm so excited! This is so exciting! Congratulations."
Web Politics Editor
October 29, 2008; 11:22 AM ET
Categories: B_Blog , Battlegrounds , Sarah Palin
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