Monday, October 6, 2008

Guest Post: Sarah Palin, Energy Expert

I am excited to offer another post from a learned friend -- and not just because I'm busy. This one was written by a man called the People's Engineer -- in part because he holds degrees in: law, civil engineering, and kicking Republican rhetoric's butt. Here it is:

Sarah Palin: Energy Expert

No matter who wins this election, John McCain will have permanently tarnished his reputation with much of this country. Like many moderates, I was quietly relieved by his nomination. Since then, I have been repeatedly and consistently disappointed by the disingenuous direction his campaign has taken. John McCain has told us with a straight face that because of her “executive experience,” Sarah Palin is more qualified than Barack Obama to be in a leadership role and that because Russia is geographically adjacent to Alaska, Palin has foreign policy credentials. Equally galling (and less scrutinized) is John McCain’s repeated contention that Sarah Palin “knows more about energy than anyone in the United States of America.” ( This is a lie. There is no credible evidence whatsoever to suggest this claim contains a shred of truth. None. The only two tenuous links between her and any sort of energy expertise are (1) her husband and (2) her short tenure as governor of Alaska.

Todd Palin worked for British Petroleum for approximately 20 years, but not in any sort of position that would make him privy to energy strategy or policy matters – he has worked as both an oil field production operator and supervisor. I do not discount his intelligence or capability merely because he held a blue-collar position; but lets be honest, we wouldn’t want an electrician running our nation’s energy policy, so why would we want the spouse of an oil field worker?

Palin has repeatedly declared herself to be an energy expert, citing her experience as governor of a state that is a net energy producer. This claim is ridiculous.

First, energy issues go far beyond oil and gas. Coal is the number one source of electrical generation in this country, dwarfing all others. Aside from natural gas production, Alaska is largely irrelevant to the nation’s electrical generation. It is impossible for Palin to “know more about energy than anyone else” if her knowledge doesn’t even extend to electricity generation.
Second, it is true oil powers our transportation economy, but Palin has never actually provided any information as to how she is an expert in this area. Alaska produces surplus oil and gas, but she has absolutely no experience developing any sort of energy policy; and if she did it would not even be relevant for the rest of the country (as it would be based around Alaska’s energy surplus). At most Palin has experience negotiating licensing and royalty fees with oil and gas companies. As we all know, U.S. energy problems stem from our reliance on imports. Her experience negotiating royalty rates with oil companies would have absolutely no bearing on her ability to help the United States reduce its dependence on foreign oil by switching to alternative technologies.

Here is an excellent video of Palin showing her firm grasp on how energy markets work:

Sadly, she cannot even demonstrate basic knowledge of the subject. Her comments are completely unintelligible. She is correct in stating the very elementary principle that oil is a fungible commodity, after that she falls apart. Oil produced domestically in the United States is sold on the world markets – oil is a global commodity. Giving her the very generous benefit of the doubt, perhaps she is suggesting some sort of legislative action that would prevent this from happening. Unfortunately, this type of policy would have little if any reduction whatsoever on the amount of oil we import. The math is very simple: the US produces 7.5 million barrels per day, we consume 20 million barrels per day, whether this domestic production is sold on the global market is trivial and irrelevant to the real problem. An energy expert who can’t even grasp this very basic calculation is no expert at all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent post - thanks for sharing your expertise in this area