Opinion: Palin’s addiction to oil


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We’ll be hearing a lot in the next few days about all the things Sarah Palin brings to John McCain’s campaign (anti-abortion cred, status as a reformer, magnet for angry Clinton supporters, yada yada yada), but there’s more than one area where she’ll do the Arizona senator more harm than good. The obvious one is that she’s completely unqualified to be president if anything happens to the 72-year-old McCain, but the less obvious one is that her devotion to Big Oil almost makes Dick Cheney look green.

No Alaskan is really qualified to weigh in on the U.S. energy debate: This is a state whose government budget is almost entirely underwritten by oil companies, which send each resident an annual royalty check to boot. Palin gets some credit for rejecting the suspect relationships with oil companies that have brought down nearly the entire state’s Republican old guard -- in fact, her meteoric rise from mayor of Wasilla, pop. 8,000, to the governor’s mansion can be traced to the ongoing corruption scandal -- but that doesn’t exactly make her a maverick. She is a stalwart proponent of drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge as well as stepped-up offshore drilling, while her major accomplishment as governor so far has been to make Alaskans even more reliant on Big Oil by increasing their ‘resource rebate’ to $1,200 per household.


Even the environmentally challenged Bush administration is too tree-hugging for Palin, who sued the U.S. Department of the Interior for listing the polar bear as a threatened species. She doesn’t deny that global warming is happening -- its effects are too obvious in Alaska -- but doubts that it has man-made causes. That doesn’t just put her at odds with nearly every credible climatologist on Earth, it puts her at odds with John McCain. And her positions on drilling will only fuel the Obama camp’s line that Republicans are too cozy with oil companies to end the country’s petroleum addiction.

* Photo by Kiichiro Sato / AP