Saturday, September 13, 2008

Sarah Palin wins the tug of war with Charlie Gibson

ABC’s Charlie Gibson has displayed a side of him as an “interviewer” that has not been seen when Democrats are in his line of vision. His “interview” with Governor Sarah Palin was out of the inquisition playbook which is ironic since Charlie by his questions seems not to hold religion in very high regard.

Charlie went after Sarah as if he were an Obama campaign hack on all issues. From the start of his famously reported meeting with Sarah so “the people would get to know her” a video report damned Sarah with faint praise by noting her popularity in Alaska (80%) but somehow only focusing on a few Alaskans who “still have their minds open about their voting choice”, and naturally not sympathetic to Sarah.

Bulldog Charlie then proceeded to hammer Sarah on controversial issues designed to separate Sarah from many of her admirers. One subject in particular was energy independence where Sarah is perhaps the best versed of all four candidates running for national office. Charlie tried to diminish the value of Sarah’s expertise in this area but the fact remains Sarah was absolutely right in declaring energy independence is a key issue for America and our nation’s security is wrapped up with our ability to discontinue reliance on foreign oil.

As MarketWatch said “A Republican politician from oil-rich Alaska was never going to have an easy time convincing environmental groups she was "green" no matter how much time she spent hugging trees while hunting.” Very soon after Republican presidential nominee John McCain introduced Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate, environmental groups began calling the governor a friend of "big oil" who puts drilling "above the environment" and expanded exploration above protection of endangered species. However one might ask “What do voters expect a governor from an energy producing state with lots of oil to do when our country’s energy development is already being hampered by extreme environmentalists?”

Governor Palin has responsibly advanced projects to extract oil the rest of the country desperately needs. Sarah supports drilling in areas of Alaska that environmental groups vehemently oppose and she supports tapping the state's natural gas reserves and shipping the cleaner burning fuel to the lower forty eight states.

Sarah has even challenged the Bush administration’s listing of the polar bear as an endangered species knowing full well that restricting usage of polar bear habitats would curb oil and gas drilling, even though her hometown isn't far from the site of the infamous Exxon Valdez oil spill that impacted fisherman like her husband. This past August, Palin sued the Department of the Interior for listing the polar bear on the endangered species. Palin argued that listing it as endangered would unnecessarily curb oil and gas drilling in certain areas where there are polar bear populations.

On behalf of Alaska, the governor claimed the department didn't use the best science models when predicting how the climate would warm in coming years and the impact it would have on the polar bears' sea ice habitat. Despite evidence that the polar bear populations were actually increasing, not decreasing, in the end the administration decided the bears' habitat will continue to shrink as a result of global warming, therefore posing a threat to the species.

Notwithstanding her efforts to get support for developing Alaska’s oil resources, Sarah has also investigated a member of her own party for inappropriate ties to the oil industry and has signed legislation giving tax rebates to residents who improve the energy efficiency of their homes.

But perhaps Sarah’s greatest environmental sin is her comments during a recent magazine interview saying she does not believe climate change is being caused by man-made activities despite phony scientific research purporting to show burning of fossil fuels is a leading contributor.

Alaska's oil and gas industry is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions so curbing emissions would drastically affect the ability to supply needed energy resources to other states. The North Slope of Alaska covers an area of 89,000 square miles, larger than Minnesota, and includes the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This oil producing region on the North Slope accounts for about 15% of the nation's oil production. Alaska's Prudhoe Bay contains the largest oil field in the nation and produces 400,000 barrels a day; roughly 8% of total U.S. daily crude oil production, according to the Energy Department. The 800-mile Trans-Alaska Pipeline ships up to 2.1 million barrels of crude oil each day, which is more than any other pipeline in the United States, and crosses multiple mountain ranges and hundreds of rivers and streams. Considering that Alaska is the second largest producer of crude oil in the nation (behind Texas), every Alaskan governor has had a relationship with the oil and gas industry.

Even though oil is the major focus, natural gas is where Sarah Palin has made her greatest contribution to our country. The Alaska North Slope also contains two of the largest natural gas fields in the country which can be a vital resource for homes that heat with the fuel during the winter. The U.S. consumes about 23 trillion cubic feet of natural gas each year, according to the Energy Department.

Those criticizing Sarah as a foe of the environment and a friend of big oil point to her successful efforts to advance the development of a proposed 1,700-mile natural gas pipeline that would ship 4.5 billion cubic feet of fuel per day out of Prudhoe Bay. Environmentalists ignore and are out of touch with the daily needs of Americans for energy.

However Sarah Palin’s detractors seem most obsessed with the issue of drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, home to caribou, moose, muskoxen, grizzly bears, foxes, wolves, seals, polar bears, walrus, beluga whales, bowhead whales, ducks, geese, swans, and shorebird populations. Palin supports efforts to drill in a portion of the Refuge the size of a proverbial pin head in the enormous refuge. In this her position puts her in contrast with McCain who has opposed efforts to open up the reserve to oil and gas companies.

Charlie Gibson and other opponents of the McCain-Palin ticket want voters to reject Sarah Palin because environmentalists do but in the end there aren't many Americans who want Alaska to stop its oil production or stop shipping natural gas to the rest of the country.

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