by a siegel
Sat Oct 4th, 2008 at 07:32:32 AM EST
During the Vice Presidential debate, Sarah "Energy Expert" Palin continued to demonstrate either her fundamental ignorance about energy realities or her fervent desire to mislead as many American voters as possible with half-truths and un-truths. We'll put aside the whole question of Sarah's dealings with oil companies and the national gas pipeline and the problems of clean-coal discussion at the debate, but lets take a few moments to discuss the implications of Sarah's various words about "energy independence". Remember, Sarah reminded us that energy is her subject:
"governor of an energy-producing state, and kind of undo in my own area of expertise, and that's energy."
Okay, what did Miss Energy Expert say about energy issues?
Now, there are ways to read much of what Sarah said so that I can agree with it ... but that would be distorting her meaning far outside anything that she likely meant by the words ... but, at times, worth looking at the vagueness of the words.
When we talk about energy, we have to consider the need to do all that we can to allow this nation to become energy independent.
Well, this is debatable, of course. If you are a card-carrying denier of science and the scientific method, you can come up with one answer. If you believe in the scientific method, then concerns over Global Warming will help drive decision-making. Coal and tar sands exploitation are the two arenas of most critical difference driven by one's respect for science.
Now, by the way, these words could also come from my fingers / mind. "have to consider the need to do all that we can" include massive investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy deployment, along with massive investments in energy research and development to develop tomorrow's energy efficiency and clean energy (renewables, fission, fusion, other ...) opportunities. For true energy security (not "independence" as target), we need to structure an energy efficient and renewable energy economy such that closed supply lines or bad storms will not severely disrupt the economy or society.
It's a nonsensical position that we are in when we have domestic supplies of energy all over this great land. And East Coast politicians who don't allow energy-producing states like Alaska to produce these, to tap into them, and instead we're relying on foreign countries to produce for us.
Palin doesn't specifically state it, but the implication is strong that simply allowing us (the US) to "tap into" domestic oil and natural gas supplies, the United States would magicallly reach energy independence. Fact check time: The United States has 2 percent of the world's reserves of traditional oil and uses 25 percent of use. How long does anyone think that would last in terms of supplying domestic requirements. In addition, it is literally impossible to fully meet US demand from US supply in the next several decades, even if there were zero restrictions on drilling and zero restrictions on the (heavily polluting) exploitation of oil shale, simply through increased drilling/exploitation of petroleum resources.
We're circulating about $700 billion a year into foreign countries, some who do not like America -- they certainly don't have our best interests at heart -- instead of those dollars circulating here, creating tens of thousands of jobs and allowing domestic supplies of energy to be tapped into and start flowing into these very, very hungry markets.
Be clear, Sarah is being deceptive in these words ... whether she understands it or not.
First, absolutely agree that cutting into that $700 billion should be a national priority. Note that figure, quite reminescent, no, of a figure for a recently bandied around financial bailout? What if we had, as part of the bailout package, sought to partially "pay" for that with a target of reducing imports of foreign energy by 10 percent per year? On oil, assuming zero change in the price of oil (and massive reductions of US use would affect the price of oil), that would mean $70 billion less per annum to be leaving the US by the end of the first year; $140 billion per year the second; $210 billion the third ... Soon the balance of payments might start looking just a little bit (a 100 billion here, a 100 billion there, and it soon starts to add up). And there are not just financial, but also security and energy implications. Thus, we can agree, Sarah, that cutting into this should be a true national priority.
But, how? What is "domestic supply"? It is clear, isn't it, that she means drilling and digging? No? There is a much better set of "domestic" supplies, ones that are inexhaustible and with far better security and financial and environmental and ... implications: wind, solar, geothermal, ocean, waste-to-power, and (limited) biomass. Even more important than these: energy efficiency, which is perhaps the largest and cheapest energy resource available to Americans today. Yes to domestic, but to inexhaustible and clean domestic power.
Energy independence is the key to this nation's future, to our economic future, and to our national security. So when we talk about energy plans, it's not just about who got a tax break and who didn't. And we're not giving oil companies tax breaks, but it's about a heck of a lot more than that.
Sarah, by G-d, you're right. But, it certainly isn't about drilling, which is where your heart seems to lie.
Energy independence is the key to America's future.
Well, actually, 'energy security' is almost certainly a better term, but 'energy independence works politically. I'll buy it.
A question, however, is whether focusing energy policy on developing America's very limited oil supplies as part of a path to feed our ever-growing oil addiction is truly a path toward energy independence?
Trick question: it isn't.
The chant is "drill, baby, drill." And that's what we hear all across this country in our rallies because people are so hungry for those domestic sources of energy to be tapped into.
How about because they've been so deceived by misleading truthiness suggesting that drilling would solve things that it simply won't.
Sarah, do you mention to any of them that drilling can't start producing oil for a decade and that it will have about a one cent impact on gasoline prices ... 20 years from now when it is producing one percent of today's US oil demand. Sarah, babe, what you're leading with is a 1 cent, 1 percent, 20 year from now ameliorative to a problem that Americans face today. That's not a path toward energy independence but toward ever greater dependence on foreign sources.
They know that even in my own energy-producing state we have billions of barrels of oil and hundreds of trillions of cubic feet of clean, green natural gas. And we're building a nearly $40 billion natural gas pipeline which is North America's largest and most you expensive infrastructure project ever to flow those sources of energy into hungry markets.
Sarah, let's take you at face value. Let us assume that there are "billions", we'll gie you five billion barrels of which 50% percent could be recouped. In this case, we are talking less than four years of current US demand. (By the way, that is overstating what we could get out of Alaska. And, of course, we can't get this oil to market within the next decade, in any event. And, of course, we're not talking about climate impacts. And ...)
Barack Obama and Sen. Biden, you've said no to everything in trying to find a domestic solution to the energy crisis that we're in. You even called drilling -- safe, environmentally-friendly drilling offshore as raping the outer continental shelf.
There -- with new technology, with tiny footprints even on land, it is safe to drill and we need to do more of that.
What is interesting is to consider this: Just what does Sarah Palin think of when she hears or says the word "energy"?
Jay Inslee says, after talking about the 'inexhaustible resource of American ingenuity' and the values of renewable power,
John McCain thinks that when you look for energy, you look under your feet.
Barack Obama believes you look above the shoulders and between your ears.
Seems to me here is a case where the McCain-Palin team see eye-to-eye.
And, this shared vision is a very dark and gloomy one for the United States and the globe.
NOTE: Another commentator focused on this as well in
What was missing from Sarah Palin's Focus on "Energy Independence":
Palin used the phrase "energy independent" or "energy independence" eight times last night. Absent, however, was any mention on her part of wind, solar, or geothermal power. (She did make one reference to "alternative energy" in the context of an "all of the above approach" to dealing with climate change, but when she used a similar phrase later on she mentioned only nuclear power and "clean coal.")
At no point during the debate did Palin express an interest in developing alternative, renewable energy sources. She mentioned "domestic [supplies or sources] of energy" three times, and a "domestic solution to the energy crisis," all in the context of drilling.
Palin did have a point, if accidentally, in highlighting the importance of the United States' domestic energy supplies. Because that's how the energy and climate crises will be solved: by developing the infrastructure to tap into the energy we already have access to. These supplies won't be oil, though. They will be some combination of solar, wind, and geothermal sources (combined with efforts to increase the efficiency of our current, dirtier means of producing energy).
A worthwhile read.