Sarah Palin: Drill, drill, drill -- all the way

Offshore, onshore, in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge -- the Republican vice-presidential nominee makes no bones about it: Drill!

Published August 29, 2008 5:15PM (EDT)

Conservatives have a host of reasons for fawning over Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, John McCain's surprise vice-presidential pick. She's solidly pro-life and a solid fiscal conservative. But possibly her most attractive attribute, at this particular moment in time, could be her position on energy. You would be hard put to find an elected politician in the United States who more resolutely supports a rapid ramp-up in exploiting domestic energy supplies -- offshore and on -- including in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

One of her campaign promises in her 2006 run for governor was to "get ANWR open." Drill here, drill now? As CNBC talk show host Larry Kudlow noted in June, with Sarah Palin it's "drill, drill, drill -- all the way."

Here's what she told Kudlow in June:

I think those politicians who don't understand that we need more domestic supply of energy flowing into our hungry markets, you know, they're living in La-La Land. And we're in a world of hurt if their agenda continues to be to lock up these safe, secure domestic supplies of energy.

Remember too Larry, we're talking about a sliver of the coastal plain of Alaska being explored and drilled for oil. It's about a footprint of a 2000-acre plot of land. That's smaller than the footprint of LAX, for instance. So it's not so grandiose an acreage that it is out of the realm of possibility for others to start understanding why it is that we can do this safely.

The fact that an Alaskan Republican supports expanding drilling for oil is no shocker -- so do a majority of Alaskans. But if one of McCain's most effective thrusts in tightening the presidential campaign over the summer was his opportunistic switch to support offshore drilling, he's now added a flanker to his team who can push that line with gusto.

Again, from the Ludlow interview:

We sent [Energy] Secretary Bodman overseas the other day, and our president had to visit the Saudis a few weeks ago, to ask them to ramp up development. That's nonsense. Not when you know that we have the supplies here. You have the supplies in your sister state called Alaska, where we're ready, willing and we're able to pump these supplies of energy, flow them into hungry markets across the U.S. We want it to happen. It's Congress holding us back.

So is Palin Big Oil's girl? Her supporters will no doubt push back heartily on that accusation, noting that in 2004, she resigned after just 11 months as the head of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission because of abuses she witnessed involving other Republican commissioners and their ties to energy companies and energy lobbyists. And as governor, she pushed through a major tax increase on oil companies, that would enable the state government, according to the Seattle Times, "to capture more of the windfall when prices are high."

Her official statement at the time:

"By receiving an equitable share for our resources, we are now in a position to demand more accountability and seize opportunities to save for future generations."

That tax increase made her some enemies in the Alaskan oil industry, but right now it makes her look perfect for McCain. Gas prices bothering you? Well, listen to my running mate, who is from Alaska and knows the oil biz inside and out. She says -- drill, drill, drill, all the way, and she's no Big Oil pawn.

How's the timing? Here's a manifesto Palin released in July:

Congressional approval of responsible petroleum development in the coastal plain of Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) -- the most promising unexplored petroleum province in North America -- would be of incalculable benefit to my state and our nation.

If we don't move now to enact an energy policy that includes more oil and gas production from domestic sources, including ANWR and the federal [Outer Continental Shelf] OCS, we may look back someday and realize that we failed to perceive a critical crossroad in the history of this nation. I don't think it's overly dramatic to say that our country's future and the quality of life for every American depends on the decisions that are made or not made in the next few months.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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2008 Elections Globalization How The World Works Sarah Palin