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Palin goes rogue with counter-factual statements

November 16th, 2009 · 1 Comment

We should acknowledge benefits to Sarah Palin’s continued prominence in American society and political discussion. If nothing else, Palin opening her mouth is a jobs program to keep fact checkers busy at work. Her truthiness-laden Going Rogue should have us all going rouge (red) faced with frustration at the her page-after-page liberties with truth and fact.

Let’s focus, for a brief moment, on some examples where Sarah “Energy Expert” Palin has played it fast and loose with issues related to energy and climate change.

Sarah has long championed Global Warming denial, even as her state is on the front lines of climate change and even though Palin’s hubby’s favorite activity is already facing negative impacts due to a warming globe.  Thus, it is no surprise that Palin embraces false talking points on climate mitigation policies.  On pages 390-391, Palin embraces debunked analysis to assert that climate legislation will hurt those lower on the economic spectrum even as analyses from such biased and partisan organizations like the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) have concluded that those lowest on the economic spectrum (the bottom 25%) will benefit economically from the (already too weak to gain all the potential benefits) Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy & Security Act that passed the House earlier this year.

Energy efficiency is perhaps the clearest no-brainer that should be embraced by all (except, perhaps, those who make their living selling as much energy (polluting or otherwise) as possible). “Negawatts” can provide additional power for a fraction of the cost of additional powerplants — not matter their type.  Sadly, Alaskan buildings (especially private homes) have a deservedly atrocious reputation for energy inefficiency even in the face of the most brutal weather and with some of the highest energy prices Americans face. (There are many reasons for this, including an antiquated tax code that fosters foolish building practices: leaving siding (and thus insulation) off one side of a home can count it as ‘unfinished’ with lower real estate taxes for two years. At the end of two years, many owners don’t bother to then add that additional insulation/siding.)  In rejecting $25 million in the stimulus package to help in energy efficiency, Palin falsely asserted that this money would drive national control of Alaska’s building code. Even though that error has been documented in the past, it is repeated yet again in Palin’s Going Rogue with the Truth.

And, so on …

One of the most angering, on a fundamental level, is this blatantly misleading Palin falsehood:

PALIN: Describing her resistance to federal stimulus money, Palin describes Alaska as a practical, libertarian haven of independent Americans who don’t want ”help” from government busybodies.

THE FACTS: Alaska is also one of the states most dependent on federal subsidies, receiving much more assistance from Washington than it pays in federal taxes. A study for the nonpartisan Tax Foundation found that in 2005, the state received $1.84 for every dollar it sent to Washington.

So many in states heavily dependent on resources from the Federal government (e.g., from taxpayers in other states) scream anti-government rhetoric even while fattening themselves at the trough of federal assistance.  And, in this case, the Tax Foundation actually understates the case significantly. Unlike elsewhere in the country, Alaskans are able to claim for themselves 100% of the revenue from resources extracted from federal lands in their state.  The oil pumped in Alaska comes from wells on Federal, not state or private, lands for the most part. That $1500 or so annual royalty check distributed to Alaskans represents a huge additional subsidy.  In fact, if done appropriately, on a per capita national basis, Alaskans would receive not $1500 or so but the same figure as all Americans, perhaps $2.50 to $3, depending on oil prices.

Courtesy of Media Matters, who often trudge through truthiness-laden distortions so that we don’t have to.  From their initial look at Going Rogue.

1. Palin falsely suggests poor will be “hit hardest” by cap and trade

Palin: Obama “admitted” cap and trade will cause “electricity bills to ‘skyrocket’ ” and “those hit hardest will be those who are already struggling to make ends meet.” Palin falsely suggests that “those hit hardest [by cap and trade] will be those who are already struggling to make ends meet” and that Obama “has already admitted that the policy he seeks will cause our electricity bills to ‘skyrocket.’ ” She added: “So much for the campaign promise not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $250,000 a year. This is a tax on everyone.” [Going Rogue, Pages 390-391]

CBO says poorest quintile will benefit from Waxman-Markey. The Congressional Budget Office found that in 2020, the version of the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill that passed the House in June with the support of the Obama administration would result in a $125 average annual benefit to the quintile of households with the lowest income and a $160 average annual cost to all American households.

Obama was talking about a different plan causing energy costs to “skyrocket.” As the Associated Press noted in fact-checking Palin’s book, Obama was not talking about the cap-and-trade legislation that has since passed in the House when he referred to energy costs “necessarily skyrocket[ting].” When Obama made that statement to the San Francisco Chronicle editorial board in January 2008, he was describing a cap-and-trade proposal that would auction off 100 percent of available carbon allowances, and he made no mention at the time of a plan to compensate consumers for potential cost increases. But as noted, the Waxman-Markey bill initially would distribute most of the carbon allocations for free and contains substantial provisions to offset costs to consumers, and thus “should reduce costs to consumers.”

2. Palin still falsely claiming stimulus money for energy efficiency she vetoed required tougher building codes

Palin: “One-size-fits-all codes” required to get funds “simply wouldn’t work.” Palin claims that she vetoed a $25 million “earmark for energy conservation” available through the stimulus because Alaska would have needed to adopt “universal energy building codes” to be eligible for the funds. She comments: “Universal building codes — in Alaska! A practical, libertarian haven full of independent Americans who did not desire ‘help’ from government busybodies. A state full of hardy pioneers who did not like taking orders from the feds telling us to change our laws. A state so geographically diverse that one-size-fits-all codes simply wouldn’t work.” [Going Rogue, Pages 361-362]

PolitiFact: Palin’s claim that funds were “tied to universal energy building codes” is “false.” After Palin made similar comments on Fox News’ Hannity, PolitiFact said she was “wrong” because “municipalities are not forced to accept the specific standards and, given that local governments set their own codes, the feds would be satisfied if Alaska merely promoted such building codes [emphasis in original].” PolitiFact also reported that in a letter to Palin’s chief of staff, a Department of Energy official “wrote that the provision ‘provides flexibility with regard to building codes’ and ‘expressly includes standards other than those cited so long as the standards achieve equivalent energy savings.’ […]

5. Palin falsely suggests she did not support aerial hunting

Palin: Radio host “suggested we get together and hunt from helicopters, which Alaska hunters don’t do.” Palin falsely suggests that Alaskans do not engage in the aerial hunting of wolves, writing of her phone call with a radio host impersonating French President Nicolas Sarkozy: “Then Sarkozy started talking about hunting and suggested we get together and hunt from helicopters, which Alaska hunters don’t do (despite circulated Photoshopped images of me drawing a bead on a wolf from the air).” [Going Rogue, Page 327]

Aerial hunting of wolves takes place in Alaska under program supported by Palin. Under Alaska law, “the Board of Game may authorize a predator control program as part of a game management plan that involves airborne or same day airborne shooting.” In 2007, Palin introduced a bill to “simplify and clarify Alaska’s intensive management law for big game and the state’s ‘same day airborne hunting’ law,” which she stated would “give the Board of Game and state wildlife managers the tools they need to actively manage important game herds and help thousands of Alaskan families put food on their tables.”

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Tags: Energy · energy bookshelf · environmental · Global Warming · global warming deniers · politics

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