Palin vs. Markey: the former VP candidate weighs in on climate change


From The Daily Beast, July 18, 2009

Palin vs. the Planet

By Ed Markey

Congressman Ed Markey, co-author of a new energy bill in the House, fires back at the Alaska governor for her confusion, fuzzy math, and inaction on global warming.

The future ex-Governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, decided to dip her toe in the water on the national debate over energy and climate legislation in an op-ed in the Washington Post recently. Hailing from Alaska, one would assume the Governor might have noticed the water around her is indeed rising.

While the Governor’s op-ed does not mention the words global warming, Alaska sits on the frontlines of climate change, with temperatures rising four degrees Fahrenheit in the last 50 years; melting permafrost is sending homes and roads in coastal villages like the centuries-old Shishmaref plunging into the sea.

In addition to threatening wildlife and food supply, thawing permafrost could cost $3.6 to $6.1 billion in damages to Alaska’s roads, buildings, pipelines, and infrastructure. If you really want to hear an Alaskan speak to the threat global warming poses to America’s last frontier, watch this video from Alaskan teen Charlee Lockwood testifying before my Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

To the Governor’s credit, she did mention global warming’s impact on her state during the presidential campaign (even if she was stumped on the science behind it). She is even on record with Sen. John McCain endorsing a solution to the climate problem—a policy called “cap and trade”—that’s right, the very same policy she now attacks in the Post op-ed. Confused? So is Gov. Palin.

Last month, when the House passed the historic Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act, a bi-partisan majority stood together to take a comprehensive approach to solving our energy, climate, security and economic challenge. This legislation invests $190 billion into clean energy technology, exceeding President Obama’s goal, and will unleash more than a trillion dollars in private-sector capital investment in clean-energy technologies. It’s time to make America the leader in the technological race for clean-energy jobs, as we can no longer afford to watch China, India and Europe take the lead in these industries.

The governor does not understand that Waxman-Markey is not a tax bill—as we explicitly rejected the carbon tax option in favor of a smart cap on pollution with price protections for consumers and businesses that will grow our economy and create jobs.

She argues for more drilling as a solution to our energy crisis. But that math doesn’t add up. The United States possesses only three percent of the world’s oil reserves, yet we consume 25 percent of the world’s oil. OPEC, in contrast, controls two-thirds of the world’s oil reserves. Geological reality, not Waxman-Markey, is what is making energy “scarcer and more expensive.”

That is why we need to develop American-made alternatives to our nation’s current foreign dependency. No matter how hard she looks, Gov. Palin is not going to find enough oil in Alaska to feed our country’s insatiable appetite for energy.

Our plan can only be compared with Palin’s proposals by omission, not commission. Here are the words she chose to omit from her op-ed: wind, solar, biomass, geothermal, efficiency, smart grid, and fuel economy. These are true America solutions to our energy problems. Solutions that will create over 1.7 million new clean energy jobs alone, solutions that will save consumers and businesses millions on electricity bills year after year.

The Governor criticizes Waxman-Markey for setting aside funds to address any temporary job dislocations that might occur as a result of the bill. But preparing for the worst case does not mean jobs will be lost. It means we want to make sure that we’re taking care of the workers of today as we prepare for the jobs of tomorrow. In fact, we expect so many new clean energy jobs to become available, that we’ve set aside more than $800 million to help educate and train workers to have the skill set needed to succeed.

So, if Gov. Palin really wants to know what the Waxman-Markey bill does, she should begin by considering the top 10 policies that would create a truly prosperous clean energy economy:

Waxman-Markey Top Ten Policies:

Invest in Clean Energy: Invests $190 billion into clean energy like wind, solar, geothermal and advanced coal technology. Waxman-Markey establishes eight Clean Energy Innovation Hubs across the country, linking our top academic institutions with clean tech businesses to get technologies from the lab to the marketplace.

Cuts Foreign Oil: Invests $20 billion in advanced fuel efficient vehicles like plug-in hybrids and all-electric cars and trucks, so that the next generation of drivers may never use a gas pump. When the bill is combined with fuel economy and renewable fuel standards already put in place, America will save more than 5 million barrels of oil a day, more than we already import from the Middle East and Venezuela combined.

Reduces Carbon Pollution: For the first time, puts a cap on the carbon pollution causing global warming—reducing carbon and other heat-trapping pollutants 83 percent by 2050. The program makes polluters pay, driving down emissions over time by about 2 percent a year. American leadership on global warming will pave the way for an international deal that gets all polluters on board.

Creates Jobs, Trains Workers: Will create millions of new clean energy jobs that can’t be sent overseas to China and India, and provides $865 million in job training assistance for America’s new clean energy workers.

Builds a Smarter Grid: Encourages a Smart Grid that uses E-Chips—electricity computer chips—and other technologies in appliances, homes and businesses that will empower consumers to save money and energy using Internet and other telecommunications technologies.

Efficiency Savings: Saves consumers $69 billion annually by 2030 by making our buildings, homes, appliances, and lights use less energy. New buildings and homes will be 50 percent more efficient by 2016, and old buildings will be retrofitted with energy-saving technology. Efficiency provisions in Waxman-Markey will avoid the need to build more than 150 large power plants.

Saves Families Money: Provides hundreds of dollars in energy rebates annually to low-income families and helps all families reduce their electricity bills. Cumulative energy cost-savings would total more than $4,000 per household by 2030.

Price Spike Protection: Over 50 percent of the program is dedicated to protecting consumers from the price spikes typical of the old energy economy. It dedicates 30 percent of the program to protect families and businesses from rate spikes on their electricity bills. W-M dedicates 15 percent of the program to protect low-income families from price increases, providing hundreds of dollars in energy rebates annually to low-income families.

Funds New Technologies: Establishes a “Clean Energy Bank” to leverage $75 billion in loans to fund established clean energy technologies like wind and solar, and to breakthrough technologies that have yet to be invented.

Fiscally Responsible: The Congressional Budget Office found Waxman-Markey will not raise the federal budget deficit.

I do agree with Palin that there is no shortage of threats to the American economy—and I believe that her strategy of inaction on clean energy and global warming is one of them. We must deliver a comprehensive clean energy and climate bill to President Obama and to the American people. That is why the House bill was built with input from every region of the country and every sector of the economy. It’s time to take action. Failing to meet these challenges is no longer an option.

Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) chairs the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming and the Energy and Environment Subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee.


From the Washington Post, July 14, 2009

The ‘Cap And Tax’ Dead End

By Sarah Palin

There is no shortage of threats to our economy. America’s unemployment rate recently hit its highest mark in more than 25 years and is expected to continue climbing. Worries are widespread that even when the economy finally rebounds, the recovery won’t bring jobs. Our nation’s debt is unsustainable, and the federal government’s reach into the private sector is unprecedented.

Unfortunately, many in the national media would rather focus on the personality-driven political gossip of the day than on the gravity of these challenges. So, at risk of disappointing the chattering class, let me make clear what is foremost on my mind and where my focus will be:

I am deeply concerned about President Obama’s cap-and-trade energy plan, and I believe it is an enormous threat to our economy. It would undermine our recovery over the short term and would inflict permanent damage.

American prosperity has always been driven by the steady supply of abundant, affordable energy. Particularly in Alaska, we understand the inherent link between energy and prosperity, energy and opportunity, and energy and security. Consequently, many of us in this huge, energy-rich state recognize that the president’s cap-and-trade energy tax would adversely affect every aspect of the U.S. economy.

There is no denying that as the world becomes more industrialized, we need to reform our energy policy and become less dependent on foreign energy sources. But the answer doesn’t lie in making energy scarcer and more expensive! Those who understand the issue know we can meet our energy needs and environmental challenges without destroying America’s economy.

Job losses are so certain under this new cap-and-tax plan that it includes a provision accommodating newly unemployed workers from the resulting dried-up energy sector, to the tune of $4.2 billion over eight years. So much for creating jobs.

In addition to immediately increasing unemployment in the energy sector, even more American jobs will be threatened by the rising cost of doing business under the cap-and-tax plan. For example, the cost of farming will certainly increase, driving down farm incomes while driving up grocery prices. The costs of manufacturing, warehousing and transportation will also increase.

The ironic beauty in this plan? Soon, even the most ardent liberal will understand supply-side economics.

The Americans hit hardest will be those already struggling to make ends meet. As the president eloquently puts it, their electricity bills will “necessarily skyrocket.” So much for not raising taxes on anyone making less than $250,000 a year.

Even Warren Buffett, an ardent Obama supporter, admitted that under the cap-and-tax scheme, “poor people are going to pay a lot more for electricity.”

We must move in a new direction. We are ripe for economic growth and energy independence if we responsibly tap the resources that God created right underfoot on American soil. Just as important, we have more desire and ability to protect the environment than any foreign nation from which we purchase energy today.

In Alaska, we are progressing on the largest private-sector energy project in history. Our 3,000-mile natural gas pipeline will transport hundreds of trillions of cubic feet of our clean natural gas to hungry markets across America. We can safely drill for U.S. oil offshore and in a tiny, 2,000-acre corner of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge if ever given the go-ahead by Washington bureaucrats.

Of course, Alaska is not the sole source of American energy. Many states have abundant coal, whose technology is continuously making it into a cleaner energy source. Westerners literally sit on mountains of oil and gas, and every state can consider the possibility of nuclear energy.

We have an important choice to make. Do we want to control our energy supply and its environmental impact? Or, do we want to outsource it to China, Russia and Saudi Arabia? Make no mistake: President Obama’s plan will result in the latter.

For so many reasons, we can’t afford to kill responsible domestic energy production or clobber every American consumer with higher prices.

Can America produce more of its own energy through strategic investments that protect the environment, revive our economy and secure our nation?

Yes, we can. Just not with Barack Obama’s energy cap-and-tax plan.

The writer, a Republican, is governor of Alaska.


Palin’s Cap-and-Trade Is Alaska’s Bait-and-Switch

By Shannyn Moore, from the Huffington Post July 17, 2009

In her op-ed in the Washington Post this week, Sarah Palin, while still governor, took up the sword for corporate interests; a position directly opposing what is best for Alaska.

The flip-flop to anyone who watched the vice presidential debate was obvious. When Gwen Ifill asked, “Do you support capping carbon emissions?” Palin responded, “I do. I do.”

What or whom changed Sarah Palin’s mind about cap-and-trade?

In both her resignation speech and her op-ed, Palin touted AGIA, the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act. It was widely supported and passed with a vote of 58-1. “This is the largest private sector energy project, ever. THIS is energy independence,” she said on July 3. In her piece, she railed Obama’s plan for cap-and-trade. She mentioned AGIA again and how we are “progressing” the 3,000-mile project.

As evidenced by its near unanimous passage in the Alaska Legislature, AGIA is one of the most important pieces of legislation in our 50 years of statehood. We need jobs and energy relief.

The Senate Resources committee was still hashing out details of the gas line legislation this year. With such a monumental project on the table — one that will affect generations, the committee members took pains to consider the potential impact of future federal legislation on the project. The prospect of cap-and-trade came up repeatedly. How would it affect the gas line? How would it affect Alaska?

On March 25, Dr. Mark Myers, a former Alaska Division of Oil & Gas Director, appointed by President Bush to oversee the United States Geological Service, and the State of Alaska’s AGIA Coordinator, presented a slide to the committee titled “Impact of Carbon Regulation on Natural Gas Demand.” His presentation demonstrated how the gas line will have an economic edge and environmental advantage over coal plants in producing clean energy. Such a regulation will also create higher demand for Alaska gas, thereby pushing up prices and ultimately benefiting Alaskans in form of additional state revenues and support for jobs in the gas field.

In Senate Resource hearings on March 26, April 7, and June 3, Senators Wielechowski and Therriault asked experts how cap and trade would affect the Alaska gasline.

March 26, 2009 DR. DAVID WOOD (a LNG international consultant) said gas should benefit from that legislation, being the least carbon…of fuels. Cap and trade will penalize coal with respect for gas…most cap and trade will increase demand.

April 7, 2009
TONY PALMER (TransCanada’s Alaska Vice President) said he has not spoken to Obama yet but has spoken briefly with his staff about a month ago, before they had formulated how they might proceed. Cap and trade agreements should be positive force on this project.

June 3, 2009
MR. PALMER said carbon legislation would be put in place, that should be positive for gas and therefore this project.

They were unanimous that federal cap-and-trade legislation will have a positive influence on the AGIA project.

Thus, between the amount of carbon credits Alaska would have to trade, and the increased demands for clean energy in natural gas, federal cap-and-trade regulation is in the best interest of Alaska.

You don’t have to follow Palin’s tweets to know she wasn’t present at the Senate resource hearings. However, her appointee, Dr. Myers, was not only attending, he was advising the legislature that the cap-and-trade legislation will be of great benefit to Alaska — a view that is diametrically opposed to Palin’s new stance.

Recently, the federal government found Alaska has warmed at more than twice the rate of the rest of the United States. Widespread and unprecedented thawing of permafrost, sinking buildings, buckled roads, damaged runways, water and sewer systems, are just part of the affects of climate change. Three coastal villages have begun relocation plans with 160 rural communities threatened by erosion. Alaska’s climate is the canary in the coal mine. Capping carbon emissions may help Alaska avoid some dire environmental consequences.

Palin’s op-ed was completely contradictory to her own administration’s position in its Juneau testimony last legislative session. She has apparently been convinced that, despite its importance to Alaska’s gas line project, cap-and-trade is somehow bad for the rest of the country. Sarah Palin either doesn’t understand the importance of cap-and-trade to Alaska, or she does know, but now that she’s pandering to red swing states, she just doesn’t care.

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