Palin’s content-free opposition to carbon pricing

2009-07-14

in Economics, Politics, Rants, Science, The environment

Fence and leaves

Sarah Palin, former governor of Alaska, has produced an op-ed for The Washington Post attacking the Waxman-Markey bill, and the idea of using cap and trade to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. She argues:

  1. It will prevent economic recovery.
  2. It will make energy too expensive.
  3. Job losses will result.
  4. Costs of agriculture, transport, and manufacturing will rise.
  5. Drilling in Alaska and building pipelines is a better option.
  6. The US has lots of coal, and could build a lot more nukes.

Notably, she doesn’t even pretend to offer a solution to climate change, the primary problem the Waxman-Markey bill aims to address. This is remarkably myopic. Even if we accept that all of her assertions are true, this op-ed brings us no closer to making an intelligent decision on climate change and energy policies, since it doesn’t really contemplate alternative mechanisms through which climate can be stabilized and dependence on non-renewable fuels can be overcome. To imply that the US can get by with a bit more drilling is deeply fallacious. Similarly, it is misleading and dangerous to suggest that the American economy would keep ticking happily along indefinitely, even if climate change was totally unrestrained and allowed to follow its most destructive course.

We can only hope that the US Senate will be a bit more far-seeing in its analysis and deliberations, more willing to consider the key motivations for energy policy, and ultimately seized of the importance of sending a strong and growing price signal, so as to progressively and deeply curb the release of harmful and threatening greenhouse gasses.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

. July 14, 2009 at 10:23 am

Palin eschews facts and economics in blasting cap-and-trade bill

Posted 11:05 PM on 13 Jul 2009
by Russ Walker

Sarah Palin, the soon-to-be-ex-governor of Alaska, has an opinion piece (a screed, really) in Tuesday’s Washington Post in which she shrilly blasts away at “President Obama’s cap-and-trade energy plan,” calling it “an enormous threat” to the U.S. economy.

Juicy stuff. Ordinarily, we’d let David Roberts out of his cage to respond, but he’s happily away on vacation. Joe Romm will surely be along in the morning with a strong piece tearing apart Palin’s piece. But for now, here are some first thoughts from me:

Palin’s thesis comes loaded with plenty of rhetoric and zero facts. It offers nothing more than assertions about the emissions reduction part of the bill, ignores the energy investment and green jobs provisions, blames “Washington bureaucrats” for hampering oil development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (not Congress, where elected lawmakers have repeatedly expressed the American public’s desire to keep ANWR off limits), and fails to even take note of the underlying issue—catastrophic climate change.

Couldn’t Palin’s ghostwriters have cribbed from any of the well-researched, highly technical criticisms produced by just about every conservative think tank in the land?

. July 14, 2009 at 10:53 am

14 Jul 2009 08:43 am
Sarah Palin Does Not Understand Cap and Trade

by Conor Clarke

If you’re wondering what Sarah Palin will do after leaving the Alaska governor’s office, look no further than her op-ed in the this morning’s Washington Post. She writes, “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.”

As a card-carrying member of the chattering class, let me say that I am in indeed disappointed by this development. Not because Palin is showing a greater interest in policy, or because she’ll be focusing on an issue that’s near and dear to my heart. I’m disappointed because Palin’s op-ed displays an ignorance for the subject so profound it’s almost gutsy. Almost. Let’s start with the big problem:

Matt July 14, 2009 at 2:25 pm

Sarah Palin? Content free? Get out!

Sarah Palin’s personal dilemma is that her ambition eclipses her intelligence by orders of magnitude. It’s revealing going back and watching her primetime interviews on youtube just how little she knows. Also, she comes from a state where presently natural resources contribute virtually all of the wealth; one only needs to look at how politician’s from Alberta behave to see what drives her type.

Milan July 14, 2009 at 2:30 pm

This is an op-ed piece, not an off-the-cuff response to an interview question. She had all the time she needed to consult sources and experts.

What this seems to show is that Palin doesn’t consider climate change worth mentioning, when discussing what energy policies the US should adopt.

R.K. July 14, 2009 at 2:58 pm

former governor of Alaska

She is still governor for another 12 days.

Best line from the piece: “We are ripe for economic growth and energy independence if we responsibly tap the resources that God created right underfoot on American soil.”

Why would God allow dangerous climate change? He clearly created the bounty of fossil fuels for our enjoyment and delight.

Aizen July 14, 2009 at 4:14 pm

Sarah Palin is the perfect voice of the American People. Quits when the going gets tough, but quick to bash those that are trying. 12 more days will seem like forever with Pinocchio.

. July 14, 2009 at 8:34 pm

Lexington
The passing of Palin

Jul 9th 2009
From The Economist print edition
Sarah Palin will never be president. But her resignation leaves a gap in American politics

ON A trip to Alaska three years ago, Lexington watched a former small-town mayor perform in a Republican primary debate. One of her rivals was the sitting governor, a man of far greater political experience. She trounced him. Granted, he was so dull that even his campaign song admitted it. Still, it was an arresting performance.

Strange to recall, when John McCain picked Sarah Palin as his running-mate last year, almost no one had heard of her. Now she is the most divisive figure in America. To mention her name at a dinner party in the highly educated liberal suburb where Lexington lives is to ask for trouble. “Moron”, “idiot” and “megalomaniac” are some of the gentler epithets that will be used. Some will admit to hating her. Many will guffaw at her trashy family. Yet half the country loves her.

A Pew poll last month found that Americans’ opinions of Mrs Palin were evenly balanced. A hefty 44% took a dim view of her, while 45% took a rosy one. Among Republicans, she scored a whopping 73% approval rating, far outpacing any other plausible contender for the party’s presidential nomination in 2012. Of course, that poll was taken before she announced, on July 3rd, that she would step down as governor of Alaska without finishing her term. This bombshell was unexpected, and makes it highly unlikely that she will ever be president. Asked what they seek in a commander-in-chief, few Americans cite a tendency to cut and run when the going gets tough.

. July 14, 2009 at 9:44 pm

Oh, beautiful for Palin’s lies
By Cory Doctorow on politics

Andrew Sullivan has rounded up all the documented major, easily verified lies of Sarah Palin. It’s an impressive list, a kind of “portrait of the candidate as a frootbat.”

“Palin lied when she said the dismissal of her public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan, had nothing to do with his refusal to fire state trooper Mike Wooten; in fact, the Branchflower Report concluded that she repeatedly abused her power when dealing with both men.

Palin lied when she repeatedly claimed to have said, “Thanks, but no thanks” to the Bridge to Nowhere; in fact, she openly campaigned for the federal project when running for governor.

Palin lied when she denied that Wasilla’s police chief and librarian had been fired; in fact, both were given letters of termination the previous day.

Palin lied when she wrote in the NYT that a comprehensive review by Alaska wildlife officials showed that polar bears were not endangered; in fact, email correspondence between those scientists showed the opposite.”

. July 15, 2009 at 10:58 am

Quitter-in-chief Sarah Palin attacks climate action and clean energy in falsehood-filled piece

Posted 11:35 AM on 14 Jul 2009
by Joseph Romm

Memo to Washington Post and editorial page editor Fred Hiatt: We get it already.

You don’t like clean energy. You don’t mind publishing unfact-checked articles again and again. And if somebody wants to publish an op-ed attacking climate legislation focused exclusively on the cost of action while never actually discussing climate change or the cost of inaction, hey, why not? It’s not like there’s a major study by a leading journalist criticizing the entire media for such biased coverage (see “The press misrepresented the economic debate over cap and trade…. The press allowed opponents of climate action to replicate the false debate over climate science in the realm of climate economics. The press … sometimes assumed that doing nothing about climate change carried no cost“).

But running a piece by Sarah Palin, “The ‘Cap And Tax’ Dead End,” that is devoid of original arguments and simply repeats tired myths is a new low.

. July 16, 2009 at 12:14 pm

What is behind Sarah Palin’s attack on climate bill? Drill, baby, drill!

In the New York Times this morning, Senator John Kerry (D-MA) was quoted as saying:

“Yes, she manages to write about the climate change action in Congress without ever mentioning the reason we are doing this in the first place,” Mr. Kerry wrote. “It’s like complaining about the cost of repairing a roof without factoring in the leaks destroying your home.”

. July 17, 2009 at 1:33 pm

16 July 09
Sarah Palin Wants to Be Poster Child of Anti-Science and GOP Fear Mongering

Palin declares Obama’s cap-and-trade (er, sorry, she says “cap-and-tax” four times) energy plan an “enormous threat to our economy” that “would undermine our recovery over the short term and would inflict permanent damage.”

Permanent damage? You mean the tipping point beyond which scientists conclude that we won’t be able to recover the climate and will surely face more devastating floods, droughts, and heat waves?

No, no. That’s not the “permanent damage” Sarah Palin predicts.

Instead, Palin is talking about the damage that efforts to curb carbon emissions might have on the profits of the world’s largest polluters, including the oil industry which has treated her and her family so well over the years, providing gobs of campaign funding and a job for dear husband Todd (when he’s not out snowmobiling, of course).

. July 27, 2009 at 11:43 am

Thank You, Sarah Palin
Is Alaska’s (soon-to-be ex-)governor right about taxing polluters? A thought experiment.
By Jonathan Rowe
Posted Friday, July 24, 2009, at 1:24 PM ET

I think it’s time to cut Sarah Palin a little slack. After all, not many of us would forsake the bright lights for more winters in Wasilla. Besides, with her opposition to a cap-and-trade policy to slow climate change, the soon-to-be ex-governor of Alaska—her last day in office is Sunday—has a point. Europe has tried this approach, and it was a bust. And does anyone really think it wise to entrust the fate of Earth’s atmosphere to another Wall Street circus of kinky new “investment vehicles”? (That’s the “trade” part of cap-and-trade.)

True, these aren’t Palin’s reasons. She opposes cap-and-trade because she thinks it would work too well, not because it wouldn’t work at all. But that’s a minor detail. Let’s take her advice one step further: Put cap-and-trade aside—and consider another way to curb carbon emissions. The Alaska way.

We would start by repealing the federal income tax on individuals—most of them, at least. Alaska has no personal income tax at all. We could alter that a bit and keep the tax on, say, the richest 5 percent, for reasons I’ll explain later. We would keep the corporate income tax, however, and at a high rate, as Alaska does.

Second, we would increase federal spending per capita to roughly the level of Alaska, which is the highest in the nation. I haven’t done the math, but this would help pay for universal medical care—whatever plan Congress adopts.

Wait a minute, you say. How can we cut a major tax drastically and increase spending at the same time? Remember, we’re using Alaska as our model. And what Alaska does is tax fossil fuels big time, and more than once. For one thing, it includes oil companies in its corporate income tax, but leave that aside. The state’s main source of income—80 percent of its revenues—comes from an oil production tax, which it increased substantially in 2007. The result was to double the state’s oil revenues, to more than $10 billion last year.

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