Countering Sarah Palin’s Oil-Soaked Spin

Our guest bloggers are Daniel J. Weiss, a Senior Fellow and the Director of Climate Strategy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund, and Rebecca Lefton, a Researcher for Progressive Media at American Progress.

Continuing her drum beat of pro-oil spin, Sarah Palin recently asks on Facebook “Where’s the Oil in Our National Energy Policy?” calling on the U.S. to expand domestic oil and gas developments while ignoring efforts to reduce dependence on foreign oil — one fifth of which comes from countries that are dangerous or unstable. As usual, her post is full of errors, half truths, and lies. Palin’s post cites and links to an article by Michael J. Economides, a conservative oil-industry scientist, at Investors Business Daily. Let’s set the record straight on Sarah Palin’s energy policy:


SARAH’S SPIN: “The U.S. government under Barack Obama has yet to acknowledge once, in spite of widely held estimates, that oil will continue to account for 40% of world energy demand 25 years from now — this while total world energy demand will increase by 50%, at least.” [Facebook, 1/24/10]

FACT: The Department of Energy (DOE) determined that even under existing policies (no significant increase in fuel economy or greenhouse gas pollution cuts) “liquids share of world marketed energy consumption declines from 36 percent in 2006 to 32 percent in 2030.” DOE predicts that “total world consumption of marketed energy is projected to increase by 44 percent from 2006 to 2030.” That’s without limits on global warming pollution that many countries plan to adopt, which should lower world energy demand. The Energy Information Administration estimates that U.S. oil demand will rise only one half of one percent between 2008 and 2035.

SARAH’S SPIN: “Nor has the administration, mired in Kyoto and Copenhagen global climate rhetoric, acknowledged that fossil fuels, oil, gas and coal will still account by then for over 85% of world energy demand, a largely unchanged contribution from what it is today.” [IBD, 1/21/10]

FACT: The Department of Energy predicts that fossil fuels — oil, gas, and coal — will account for 83 percent of world energy consumption in 2030. Of course, that assumes that there are no changes in energy policy or reductions in global warming pollution, which would reduce the use of fossil fuels.

SARAH’S SPIN: We can meet our energy needs and secure energy independence by drilling at home and expanding natural gas. [National Review, 10/16/09]

FACT: The Department of Energy determined that even drilling for oil and gas in the newly opened Outer Continental Shelf and the expansion of shale gas production would still require liquid fuel imports of 45% in 2035.

SARAH’S SPIN: “I look forward to hopefully hearing President Obama acknowledge America’s need to ramp up domestic energy production, including oil and natural gas developments, during Wednesday’s State of the Union address. Let’s hope his advisers advise him accordingly.” [Facebook, 1/24/10]  FACT: Months ago, President Obama advocated the enhancement of “U.S. energy supplies through responsible development of domestic renewable energy, fossil fuels, advanced biofuels and nuclear energy.”

SARAH’S SPIN: Cap-and-trade will kill the economy and slash jobs. [Washington Post, 7/14/09]

FACT: The Congressional Budget Office predicts that the American Clean Energy and Security Act, H.R. 2454, would reduce gross domestic product “by roughly ¼ percent to ¾ percent in 2020 and by between 1 percent and 3½ percent in 2050.” CBO predicts that the economy will grow by an estimated 250 percent during this time. The House-passed American Clean Energy and Security Act, H.R. 2454, would create between 1.7 million (University of Massachusetts) and 1.9 million (University of Illinois, U-C Berkeley, Yale) net new jobs.

SARAH’S SPIN: Natural gas is one promising clean alternative. Natural gas can act as a clean “bridge fuel” to a future when more renewable sources are available. [National Review, 10/16/09]

FACT: Natural gas can be a bridge fuel to generate much cleaner electricity than coal fired plants, but only if there is a system that puts price on carbon pollution. Otherwise, coal fired electricity is generally cheaper than natural gas. But Palin opposes such measures.

The New York Times reported concerns about Sarah Palin “profiteering” off an expensive speaking fee — $100,000 — at a Tea Party convention in February. Charging such a steep bill is not news for Palin and her exploitation is consistent with her ties to big oil and other special interests. Palin is acting with opponents of clean energy reform in her support for Big Oil, spreading misinformation about the benefits of clean energy and climate action. Despite her disinformation efforts, the majority of Americans strongly supports such legislation.