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Palin's Cap-and-Trade Is Alaska's Bait-and-Switch

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In her op-ed in the Washington Post this week, Sarah Palin, while still governor, took up the sword for corporate interests; a position directly opposing what is best for Alaska.

The flip-flop to anyone who watched the vice presidential debate was obvious. When Gwen Ifill asked, "Do you support capping carbon emissions?" Palin responded, "I do. I do."

What or who changed Sarah Palin's mind about cap-and-trade?

In both her resignation speech and her op-ed, Palin touted AGIA, the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act. It was widely supported and passed with a vote of 58-1. "This is the largest private sector energy project, ever. THIS is energy independence," she said on July 3. In her piece, she railed Obama's plan for cap-and-trade. She mentioned AGIA again and how we are "progressing" the 3,000-mile project.

As evidenced by its near unanimous passage in the Alaska Legislature, AGIA is one of the most important pieces of legislation in our 50 years of statehood. We need jobs and energy relief.

The Senate Resources committee was still hashing out details of the gas line legislation this year. With such a monumental project on the table -- one that will affect generations, the committee members took pains to consider the potential impact of future federal legislation on the project. The prospect of cap-and-trade came up repeatedly. How would it affect the gas line? How would it affect Alaska?

On March 25, Dr. Mark Myers, a former Alaska Division of Oil & Gas Director, appointed by President Bush to oversee the United States Geological Service, and the State of Alaska's AGIA Coordinator, presented a slide to the committee titled "Impact of Carbon Regulation on Natural Gas Demand." His presentation demonstrated how the gas line will have an economic edge and environmental advantage over coal plants in producing clean energy. Such a regulation will also create higher demand for Alaska gas, thereby pushing up prices and ultimately benefiting Alaskans in form of additional state revenues and support for jobs in the gas field.

In Senate Resource hearings on March 26, April 7, and June 3, Senators Wielechowski and Therriault asked experts how cap and trade would affect the Alaska gasline.

March 26, 2009
DR. DAVID WOOD (a LNG international consultant) said gas should benefit from that legislation, being the least carbon...of fuels. Cap and trade will penalize coal with respect for gas...most cap and trade will increase demand.

April 7, 2009
TONY PALMER (TransCanada's Alaska Vice President) said he has not spoken to Obama yet but has spoken briefly with his staff about a month ago, before they had formulated how they might proceed. Cap and trade agreements should be positive force on this project.

June 3, 2009
MR. PALMER said carbon legislation would be put in place, that should be positive for gas and therefore this project.

They were unanimous that federal cap-and-trade legislation will have a positive influence on the AGIA project.

Thus, between the amount of carbon credits Alaska would have to trade, and the increased demands for clean energy in natural gas, federal cap-and-trade regulation is in the best interest of Alaska.

You don't have to follow Palin's tweets to know she wasn't present at the Senate resource hearings. However, her appointee, Dr. Myers, was not only attending, he was advising the legislature that the cap-and-trade legislation will be of great benefit to Alaska -- a view that is diametrically opposed to Palin's new stance.

Recently, the federal government found Alaska has warmed at more than twice the rate of the rest of the United States. Widespread and unprecedented thawing of permafrost, sinking buildings, buckled roads, damaged runways, water and sewer systems, are just part of the effects of climate change. Three coastal villages have begun relocation plans with 160 rural communities threatened by erosion. Alaska's climate is the canary in the coal mine. Capping carbon emissions may help Alaska avoid some dire environmental consequences.

Palin's op-ed was completely contradictory to her own administration's position in its Juneau testimony last legislative session. She has apparently been convinced that, despite its importance to Alaska's gas line project, cap-and-trade is somehow bad for the rest of the country. Sarah Palin either doesn't understand the importance of cap-and-trade to Alaska, or she does know, but now that she's pandering to red swing states, she just doesn't care.