Governor Palin recently highlighted the crony capitalism surrounding the Solyndra solar panel company. This solar panel company with ties to Obama fundraisers has received more than half a billion dollars in stimulus money devoted to green energy projects. In spite of this, the company declared bankruptcy in August and laid off more than a thousand employees. As Governor Palin noted on Hannity on Tuesday, Solyndra received more stimulus money than 35 states received for infrastructure and roads. Governor Palin has been at the forefront of the discussion of crony capitalism, such as that of Solyndra’s, on both sides of the aisle, especially in recent weeks. However, considering Solyndra went bankrupt despite receiving hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars and despite spending more than a million dollars on lobbying since 2008, it is important also to remember Governor Palin’s words of warning on the economic futility of green energy projects.
In her speech at the India Today Conclave in March, Governor Palin warned of the economic woes of countries who emphasized green energy, noting the effects such policies had on the United Kingdom and Spain, and also referred to such policies as “social engineering” :
This push for ‘green’ at the expense of ‘conventional, reliable’ sources is not a credible energy policy or economic policy. It’s "Social Engineering" by Central Government Planners. And it leads to nothing but more debt & more job loss. And taxpayers will be stuck subsidizing the failure and paying more for energy.
Later, in her speech at the Madison Tea Party in April, Governor Palin noted solar panels specifically (emphasis added):
Less than 90 days after the election, in his State of the Union address, President Obama told us, nah, the era of big government is here to stay, and we’re going to pay for it whether we want to or not. Instead of reducing spending, they’re going to “Win The Future” by “investing” more of your hard-earned money in some cockamamie harebrained ideas like more solar shingles, more really fast trains – some things that venture capitalists will tell you are non-starters. We’re flat broke, but he thinks these solar shingles and really fast trains will magically save us. So now he’s shouting “all aboard” his bullet train to bankruptcy. “Win The Future”? W.T.F. is about right.
In both speeches, Governor Palin was right. Taxpayers have been stuck subsidizing failure, and companies like Solyndra have indeed been non-starters. That is part of the reason Governor Palin emphasized energy development as part of the plan she laid out in Iowa earlier this month:
Fourth, it is time for America to become the energy superpower. The real stimulus that we’ve been waiting for is robust and responsible domestic energy production. We have the resources. Affordable and secure energy is the key to any thriving economy, and it must be our foundation. So, I would do the opposite of Obama’s manipulation of U.S. supplies of energy. Drill here, drill now. Let the refineries and the pipelines be built. Stop kowtowing to foreign countries and dictators asking them to ramp up production and industry for us, promising them that we’ll be their greatest customer. No, not when we have the resources here. We need to move on tapping our own God-given natural resources. I promise you that this will bring real job growth, not the politicians’ phony “green jobs” fairy dust sprinkled with wishes and glitter… No, a hardcore all-of-the-above energy policy that builds this indestructible link between made-in-America energy and our prosperity and our security. You know, there are enough large conventional natural resource development projects waiting for government approval that could potentially create more than a million high-paying jobs all across the country. And this is true stimulus. It wouldn’t cost government a dime to allow the private sector to do these. In fact, these projects will generate billions of dollars in revenue. Can you imagine that: a stimulus project that actually helps dig us out of debt instead of digging us further into it! And these are good-paying jobs, and I know that from experience. For years my own family was supported (as Todd worked up on the North Slope) by a good energy sector job. America’s economic revival starts with America’s energy revival.
Rather than emphasizing green energy projects funded by taxpayer “stimulus” dollars, Governor Palin noted that America needs to become the energy power by developing God given resources. To be sure, energy has been one of Governor Palin’s signature issues for years, so this is not a new statement. However, Governor Palin’s record of fighting against crony capitalism and for domestic energy development uniquely positions her above other potential presidential rivals. A report released last week by the Department of Energy’s National Petroleum Council notes that America has more oil and gas resources than previously thought and has the potential to be the world’s largest producer of oil by 2017 if regulations were appropriately lifted. Also, as Governor Palin noted in her speech, more than a million jobs could be created if government got out of the way.
While Governor Romney and Governor Perry are quibbling over whose administration has a better job creation record, Governor Palin is noting that government cannot create jobs, but they can certainly do a lot to destroy them through overregulation. That isn’t to say that there isn’t job growth or destruction on a politician’s watch, but that Governor Palin’s small government rhetoric matches her ideology. At the same time, Governor Palin’s removal of the cronyism of the Murkowski administration’s oil tax structure helped double the number of oil companies investing in drilling in Alaska and brought a record number of oil jobs in each year from 2007-2009. Natural resource and logging jobs increased 13.7% during her tenure according to Alaska Department of Labor and Resource Development data. During that same timeframe, Perry’s Texas, another energy rich state, had a 0.5% decrease in energy development jobs (from mining, logging, and oil and gas production) according to calculation of Texas Workforce Commission data. Governor Palin never has claimed that government can create jobs, noting in one of her State of the state speeches that government can only “provide the tools” for jobs to be created. Governor Perry tried to claim that his administration actually “created jobs” while sparring with Governor Romney earlier this month. Meanwhile, as with many policy issues, Governor Romney’s record likewise does not match his current rhetoric. As Governor of Massachusetts, Romney created a $15 billion Green Energy Fund that went to subsidize solar panel companies, yet his recently released jobs plan states that such initiatives make “little sense”.
Additionally, Governor Palin rightfully notes that energy development and subsequent job growth is more than just expanding drilling. It also involves taking forward-focused action such as encouraging the building of refineries. Governor Romney makes no mention of the need to build refineries even in the 16-page energy policy component of his 160-page economic plan, and Governor Perry has yet to lay out a plan of any specificity. However, if America has the potential to become the largest energy producer in the world, should not America be prepared to refine these resources? America has not built any new refineries since 1976. Over the last 35 years, oil refineries have become more modern and more efficient in their refining capacity enabling them to refine more oil, but they have also decreased in number. If energy development is going to increase, would not it behoove a president to promote increased refineries to keep pace with the increased production? Drilling in ANWR alone has the potential to increase production by 1.5 million barrels per day, which would require the work of about 12 refineries working at the current capacity of about 123,627.9 barrels per day (the rate of the current operating refineries per calendar day). If energy development is no longer handcuffed by over-regulation, expanding refining capabilities to meet the increased development would be needed.
Governor Palin is the only declared or potential candidate whose record truly matches their rhetoric. Investing in socially-engineered green energy projects is not good economics, especially when it is simply a trade of political favors. Instead, energy development that unshackles the private sector and provides forward-focused objectives is what America needs for her national, economic and energy security. She is uniquely positioned to address the issue of energy, leaving her political opponents green with envy.