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Energy independence

As governor of Alaska, Palin has pushed for more domestic oil drilling, an idea she continues to promote as vice presidential candidate. Here she is discussing drilling in her ABC interview:

In the vice presidential debate, Palin claimed that under her direction as governor, Alaska has accounted for “much progress towards getting our nation energy independence.” She also stated that Alaska is “a huge energy producing state:”

This is inaccurate on many fronts. The U.S. has not made much progress towards energy independence. Both McCain and Obama have stated that lack of progress has been the problem.

Secondly, Alaska’s share of domestic energy production is only 3.5 percent, according to the official figures kept by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, making it far from “huge.” Alaska’s production accounts for only 2.4 percent of all the energy consumed in the U.S. It is behind Kentucky, Pennsylvania, New Mexico and five other states.

Thirdly, in its main area of energy contribution, oil, Alaska’s production has dropped significantly under Palin.

The Washington Post:

While Alaska is a leading producer of crude oil, it produces relatively little natural gas, hardly any coal, and no nuclear power. Its share of oil production has been declining sharply, and now ranks lower than Texas and Louisiana. As the following table shows, Alaska is the ninth largest energy supplier in the United States, accounting for a modest 3.5 percent share of the nation’s total energy production.

Oil production has fallen sharply in Alaska during her governorship. The state’s share of total U.S. oil production fell from 18 percent in 2005 to 13 percent this year, according to the EIA.

Palin also said Alaska is “building a nearly $40 billion natural gas pipeline, which is North America’s largest and most expensive infrastructure project ever to flow those sources of energy into hungry markets.”

This is not quite accurate. Alaska has only given a license to a Canadian company with $500 million in seed money to begin the costly process of getting a federal certificate to do it. Start of construction of the pipeline is at least several years away, and may not occur at all. Palin has said it is not a “done deal.” Canadian tribes have said they will block the project, which would have to cross native lands to reach the lower 48 states.

The Canadian company, Trans Canada Corp., is not under contract to do the project and can walk away. It still needs to get the 3 gas companies, BP, ConocoPhillips, and ExxonMobil, that control most of Alaska’s natural gas reserves to join it. Those companies have plans to do their own pipeline separate from Palin’s.

U.S. New and World Report:

Earlier this year, BP and ConocoPhillips got together and formed their own pipeline company, Denali, to build a competing Alaska natural gas pipeline. “It is clearly in our interest as gas lease holders and prospective shippers to make sure this line is done right and managed efficiently,” says a BP spokesperson.

The upshot is that there are now two natural gas pipeline projects in Alaska, and analysts say that only one of them will get built. Some critics see the Palin-TransCanada plan as a gamble, because, to succeed, it will need the cooperation of the big oil companies that have the gas—in other words, their competitors.

You can watch more about energy from the same debate:

Palin has said that “God’s will has to be done in unifying people and companies to get that gas line built” and asked Alaskans to pray for it:

Palin on drilling in ANWR

Sarah Palin has always been in favor of initiating drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, a 20 million acre area in northeast Alaska that is believed to contain a large amount of crude oil. In the Senate, John McCain has voted against allowing a drilling program in ANWR, but on the campaign trail in 2008 has said that he’d be willing to “go back and look at it again.”

Here is a video of Palin promoting drilling in ANWR at a meeting in Anchorage on July 17, 2008, just as gas prices were hitting $4 a gallon in some areas of the United States:

In June 2008, Palin appeared on CNBC’s Kudlow & Company and discussed her disagreement with John McCain over drilling for oil in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge:

Here’s a video of Palin on Headline News’ Glen Beck Show discussing drilling in the ANWR region:

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