Palin drilling her way to the Energy Department
On January 19, former VP candidate Sarah Palin endorsed the front runner of the GOP primaries Donald Trump in a colorful (to say the least!) television performance. However, what Palin didn't say on that day is that she expects a nice payback for her support : the department of energy. What would actually happen if she got the job ? It would mean that the Trump administration choses to enhance policies that disrupt climate and ecosystems. But it would also mean putting senseless people in charge of incredibly important issues.
Payback: Palin wants the department of energy[edit | edit source]
The price for her support has been made clear for months. In September, she gave an interview to CNN and supported Donald Trump's candidacy, while pitching herself to be energy secretary in Trump's administration. Of course she made a very elaborate and deep case : “Energy is my baby”, and to further drive home her point she defined this energy she is so fond of : “Oil and gas and minerals, those things that God has dumped on this part of the Earth for mankind’s use instead of us relying on unfriendly foreign nations.” Which basically means that to Palin, tidal, solar or wind power, just isn't energy because God hasn't “dumped” it for us to use.
It's actually quite weird because if I was a Jesus nut, renewable energy would seem like a much better expression of divine power : an ever flowing energy that is always created anew by the maker. Ah well, let's not delve too deep into Palin's psychology for the sake of our mental health. Anyway Donald Trump seems to like the notion of having Sarah Palin on board. In July he was openly courting the former governor of Alaska, when asked if he'd give her a position in his administration he answered : “I’d love that, (..) Because she really is somebody who knows what’s happening and she’s a special person.” Therefore, the scenario of Sarah Palin becoming energy secretary is definitely possible. But what would that mean ? The first thing is to look at Sarah Palin's notion of the job, and confronting that to reality.
Even though she doesn't know what the job is[edit | edit source]
This would be absolutely hilarious, if if wasn't at the same time so scary for the lives of the American citizens and actually everybody on the planet. As it happens, Sarah Palin clearly has no clue what an energy secretary does. Granted, she saw that it had the word “energy” in it and it undoubtedly triggered the “energy is my baby” reflex. However, Palin’s recent statements show that many things that she plans to do as future energy secretary would actually not be her responsibility ! Let's have a look at what she said about the Energy Department : "I'd get rid of it. And I'd let the states start having more control over the lands that are within their boundaries and the people who are affected by the developments within their states. If I were in charge of that, it would be a short-term job, but it would be really great to have someone who knows energy and is pro-responsible development to be in charge." Palin is referring to the land that the federal government owns and that has a lot of oil, coal and gas that energy corporations want to exploit.
Her idea would be to open up more land to drilling than Obama's administration has done in the past year and handing over control of this land to the states would be the way to do that. Of course this would mean more drilling and terrible environmental degradations. But also, as Katie Herzog, pointed out in grist.org, it's just plain stupid : “the Energy Department doesn’t have anything to do with drilling and mining because that’s the province of the Interior Department”. What does an energy secretary actually do ? Oh nothing too important, they are just responsible for the Nation's nuclear weapons program ! God knows there's nothing scary whatsoever in putting Sarah Palin in charge of our nuclear weapons ! Anything else ? The energy secretary is also the head of energy R&D, which invents the energy of the future. And Sarah Palin is all about the future, the only thing is that it's a future where fossil fuels keep being drilled and mined and keep poisoning our atmosphere, soil and water.
Palin's disastrous environmental track record in Alaska[edit | edit source]
Even if she was right about the job description, the danger of having someone like Palin in charge of energy related issues is clear when we look at her track record in Alaska. That's maybe the only thing where we can agree on with her : she knows about energy because she has actively contributed to a terribly destructive energy policy in the state of Alaska. Alaskan oil has been heavily drilled since the 1970's and this has caused intense pollution of the Alaskan environment. The temperature in Alaska has increased by 3,4 degrees Fahrenheit over the last 50 years and the rise is gaining speed.
This has caused disruption of the ecosystems that many native tribes had lived in for centuries. For instance, the Yup'ik and the Inupiat tribes have been forced to move to higher ground as their villages on the coast were lost to erosion. How many more climate refugees before this disastrous policy is abandoned ? Not an issue for Sarah Palin who dug up her 2008 campaign slogan “Drill, baby, drill” and has been steadily pushing to drill for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge where many natives live.
This is why putting Sarah Palin in charge is a terrible idea. Not only does she not have a clear idea of what the job is, but more importantly, everything she'll manage to do will be a blow to a sustainable energy policy of the United States. With Sarah Palin in a Trump administration, the voice of fossil fuels will be stronger and that means endangering the lives of Americans today as well as jeopardizing the environment of future generations.