Palin on Cap-and-Trade: Liar, Hypocrite or Just Confused?

Sarah Palin’s debut op-ed piece in the Washington Post, “The ‘Cap And Tax’ Dead End” is a dizzying display of conflation, mixing carbon emissions policies with energy independence policies to such an extent that she seems to have just cut and paste a bunch of recycled campaign talking points about how much energy resources Alaska has. Aside from that distraction, she did actually manage some harsh words of criticism in her piece about the cap-and-trade plan:

…I believe it is an enormous threat to our economy. It would undermine our recovery over the short term and would inflict permanent damage.


So at least one thing is clear, Palin does not support a cap-and-trade energy plan. Or does she? She supported and endorsed a cap-and trade plan just about a year ago while running for Vice President.

John McCain and Sarah Palin will establish a market-based system to curb greenhouse gas emissions, mobilize innovative technologies, and strengthen the economy.

They have proposed a cap-and-trade system that would reduce greenhouse gas emissions while encouraging the development of low-cost compliance options.


You might just chalk that up to the campaign taking some liberties but I would not expect a person with any true convictions to allow such a serious ethical lapse. Even so she had the opportunity to clear up any errors to a National audience during the Vice Presidential debates. Here is the transcript of the exchange between the candidates and the moderator on the subject of cap-and-trade.

IFILL: Let me clear something up, Sen. McCain has said he supports caps on carbon emissions. Sen. Obama has said he supports clean coal technology, which I don’t believe you’ve always supported.

BIDEN: I have always supported it. That’s a fact.

IFILL: Well, clear it up for us, both of you, and start with Gov. Palin.

PALIN: Yes, Sen. McCain does support this. The chant is “drill, baby, drill.” And that’s what we hear all across this country in our rallies because people are so hungry for those domestic sources of energy to be tapped into.

They know that even in my own energy-producing state we have billions of barrels of oil and hundreds of trillions of cubic feet of clean, green natural gas. And we’re building a nearly $40 billion natural gas pipeline which is North America’s largest and most you expensive infrastructure project ever to flow those sources of energy into hungry markets.

Barack Obama and Sen. Biden, you’ve said no to everything in trying to find a domestic solution to the energy crisis that we’re in. You even called drilling — safe, environmentally-friendly drilling offshore as raping the outer continental shelf.

There — with new technology, with tiny footprints even on land, it is safe to drill and we need to do more of that. But also in that “all of the above” approach that Sen. McCain supports, the alternative fuels will be tapped into: the nuclear, the clean coal.

I was surprised to hear you mention that because you had said that there isn’t anything — such a thing as clean coal. And I think you said it in a rope line, too, at one of your rallies.

IFILL: We do need to keep within our two minutes. But I just wanted to ask you, do you support capping carbon emissions?

PALIN: I do. I do.


She states her support quite clearly. So what happened in the time between then and now that she decided to completely reverse her position? And why then, in her op-ed did she not mention that astounding revelation once?

Palin acknowledges climate change and that Alaska’s climate is warming but has stated her uncertainty about whether or not man contributes to the problem, this of course is a perfectly acceptable and reasonable perspective but then why did she support capping carbon emissions? And why then did she set up a Climate Change Sub-Cabinet in Alaska where she wrote in the cabinet’s premiere report that low-carbon energy will be part of her climate change strategy.

Alaska has the opportunity, through commercialization of its vast North Slope Natural Gas reserves, to assist the rest of the country in securing a steady, affordable, low-carbon energy source. This will be an element of our climate change strategy.


If one does not believe man is the cause then what benefit could there possibly be to climate change from low-carbon energy? The sub-cabinet which she created has made numerous recommendations, many of which suggest reducing greenhouse gases, even a cap-and-trade method.

O&G 6: Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) from high CO2 fuel gas burned at Prudhoe Bay, use of the CO2 for enhanced oil recovery (EOR)

CC 1: Establish an Alaska Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reporting Program”

CC 5: Explore the Various Market-Based Systems to Manage Greenhouse Gas Emissions such as carbon taxes and carbon cap-and-trade systems


So back to Palin’s op-ed piece slamming cap-and-trade, this is of course her opinion but why has it changed so drastically within the last year? She was either lying to the Nation so that she could jump into the VP candidate slot, deciding to compromise her ideals for her political ambitions or she actually does believe in cap-and-trade and manmade climate change but wants to feed her supporters what they want to hear? Given the quality of her recent op-ed I don’t think we’ll be getting a clear answer anytime soon.