Barack Obama, Sarah Palin Argue Over Energy Policy

With the Middle East in chaos and the price of oil soaring, President Barack Obama decided that it was time for another speech on energy policy. The proposals in the speech were reasonable, but the reality, as Sarah Palin points out, is wide of the rhetoric.

After ridiculing Palin for her “drill, baby, drill” slogan, Obama claimed that he is indeed encouraging domestic oil and gas production “so long as it is safe and responsible.”

“To keep reducing that reliance on imports, my Administration is encouraging offshore oil exploration and production – as long as it’s safe and responsible. I don’t think anyone’s forgotten that we’re not even a year removed from the largest oil spill in our history. I know the people of the Gulf Coast haven’t. What we learned from that disaster helped us put in place smarter standards of safety and responsibility – for example, if you’re going to drill in deepwater, you’ve got to prove that you can actually contain an underwater spill. That’s just common sense.

“Today, we’re working to expedite new drilling permits for companies that meet these standards. Since they were put in place, we’ve approved 39 new shallow water permits; and we’ve approved an additional 7 deepwater permits in recent weeks. When it comes to drilling onshore, my Administration approved more than two permits last year for every new well that the industry started to drill. So any claim that my Administration is responsible for gas prices because we’ve “shut down” oil production might make for a useful political sound bite – but it doesn’t track with reality.”

Palin is having none of it. Within hours of Obama’s speech, which also had proposals for alternative energy and conservation, she posted the following on her Facebook page:

“We have the moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico as well as the de-facto moratorium in the Arctic. We have his 2012 budget that proposes to eliminate several vital oil and natural gas production tax incentives. We have his anti-drilling regulatory policies that have stymied responsible development. And the list goes on. The President says that we can’t ‘drill’ our way out of the problem. But we can’t drive our cars on solar shingles either. We have to live in the real world where we must continue to develop the conventional resources that we actually use right now to fuel our economy as we continue to look for a renewable source of energy.”

Palin also favors an “all of the above” energy policy, but one that actually develops domestic oil reserves in the near term.

The tit for tat argument over energy policy might be a hint of things to come for the 2012 election, should Palin decide to run. Palin knows quite a bit about energy policy, stemming from her days as an energy regulator then governor of Alaska. Furthermore, she has linked energy policy with economic growth and national security in what amounts to a Palin Doctrine.

Palin further provides a critique of what passes for Obama’s energy policy that amounts to an accusation that he is manipulating oil and gas prices to make them artificially high in order to make his favored alternative energy technology more attractive.

Palin thus has an attack point against Obama that will be hard for the president to defend against. Despite his denials, he has locked up quite a bit of American’s oil and gas resources, resulting in greater dependency on foreign oil and higher oil and gas prices. Obama can dispute this all he wants, but Palin will be able to ask people to either believe the president or their lying eyes.

If Palin does decide to run for president, she will have a substantial argument for electing her beside the fact that she is not Obama. She will be able to promise to unlock domestic energy reserves, sparking new domestic energy production, creating tens of thousands of jobs and, perhaps, bring the country out of the economic malaise that has featured throughout the Obama presidency.

Sources: Obama’s Energy Security Speech: ‘There Are No Quick Fixes’, President Barack Obama, National Journal, March 30, 2011

FLASHBACK: What We Were Saying One Year Ago About Obama’s Failed Energy Policy, Sarah Palin, Sarah Palin Facebook Page, March 30, 2011