Environmental news from California and beyond

« Previous | Greenspace Home | Next »

Palin says drilling for gas in the offshore Arctic will slow climate change


Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin acknowledged Tuesday that global warming was harming her state but said stepped-up natural gas production could mitigate its effects.

Speaking at a hearing before Interior Secretary Ken Salazar — the third of several he is holding across the country to consider renewed oil and gas leasing on the outer continental shelf — Palin said that relatively clean-burning natural gas could supplant dirtier fuels and slow the discharge of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

“We Alaskans are living with the changes that you are observing in Washington,” she said. “The dramatic decreases in the extent of summer sea ice, increased coastal erosion, melting of permafrost, decrease in alpine glaciers and overall ecosystem changes are very real to us.”

In the past, Palin has questioned the science behind predictions of sea ice loss. Her administration sued the federal government to block endangered-species protections for polar bears, whose habitat is melting. When she was the Republican vice presidential nominee last year, partisan crowds cheered her on by chanting, “Drill, baby, drill.”

But at Tuesday’s hearing, she made it clear that she recognized the problem of global warming. She cast energy development as part of the answer. “Stopping domestic energy production of preferred fuels does not solve the issues associated with global warming and threatened or endangered species, but it can make them worse,” she said.

Palin acknowledged that “many believe” a global effort to reduce greenhouse gases is needed. “Simply waiting for low-carbon-emitting renewable capacity to be large enough will mean that it will be too late to meet the mitigation goals for reducing [carbon dioxide] that will be required under most credible climate-change models,” she warned.

“Meeting these goals will require a dramatic increase ... to preferred available fuels, including natural gas, that have a very low carbon footprint....” she said. “These available fuels are required to supply the nation’s energy needs during the transition to green energy alternatives.”

The Interior Department will be looking with interest at alternative energy prospects across the U.S., Salazar told the more than 1,000 Alaskans at the hearing, but traditional oil and gas will remain part of the energy program.

“I understand the passion I feel in this room today,” he said. “I understand the point of view of people who have subsisted in the fishing industry from time immemorial, and the importance of wanting to maintain that way of life. I understand the sense I hear also from many of the people here that we need to have economic development, we need to have jobs, and oil and gas can be part of that job development.”

The federal Minerals Management Service estimates that Alaska’s offshore basins could hold 27 billion barrels of oil and 132 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Alaska officials say opening offshore waters to petroleum production would create 35,000 new jobs with a payroll of $72 billion over the next 50 years. Hundreds of oil-industry workers marched in hard hats outside the hearing with signs urging the government to “Drill Here, Drill Now.”

But conservationists warn that plunging drilling pads into the frozen Beaufort and Chukchi seas and in Bristol Bay could open the door to a catastrophic oil spill in one of the most fragile environments on Earth.

In addition, they voiced skepticism about Palin’s claim that boosting natural gas production would make more time to transition to wind and other forms of alternative energy. “You need to drill in order not to drill: That’s what she said,” said Peter Van Tuyn, an Anchorage environmental attorney who has represented conservation groups and native tribes on Arctic oil and gas issues.

Palin also warned that failure to exploit offshore oil could force early closure of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline and threaten the viability of a proposed gas pipeline from Alaska’s North Slope.

The pipeline once transported 2.1 million barrels of oil a day, nearly a quarter of the nation’s crude oil production, but with old oil fields on the North Slope beginning to tap out, pipeline shipments now are down to about 739,000 barrels a day, and production is continuing to decline.

“By some estimates, without new production from the [outer continental shelf], the TAPS pipeline will fall below its carrying capacity in the next decade,” the governor warned. “Once the pipeline shuts down, it will mean the end of oil production from the North Slope.”

But the state’s own most recent revenue forecasts predict production of 610,000 barrels a day on the North Slope in 2017, before any new offshore leases could be brought into production, and that figure is well within the window needed to continue pipeline operation, said Richard A. Fineberg, an independent oil industry analyst.

“Saying the pipleline will be shut down is like the boy that cried wolf,” Fineberg said. “It’s stretching the truth.”

Salazar’s next hearing is set for Thursday in San Francisco.

-- Kim Murphy

Photo: Polar bears, which depend on the shrinking sea ice in the Arctic, are threatened with extinction. Conservationists fear new offshore drilling in the icy waters could further stress the animals. Credit: Subhankar Banerjee / Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (29)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Thank you for your post, I look for such article along time,today i find it finally.this postgive me lots of advise it is very useful for me .i will pay more attention to you ,i hope you can go on posting more such post, i will support you all the time.

I really enjoyed this post, especially the “examples in this post” portion which made it really easy for me to SEE what you were talking about without even having to leave the article. Thanks

It's very interesting thought. I like hear everything that could change climat situation for good.

Me encanta la forma en que la gente de aquí interactuar y compartir sus opiniones también. Me encantaría seguir sus futuros posts relacionados con dicho tema que son capaces de leer.

Very good post. Made me realize I was totally wrong about this issue. I figure that one learns something new everyday. Mrs Right learned her lesson! Nice, informative website by the way.

Well this is very interesting indeed.Would love to read a little more of this. Great post. Thanks for the heads-up.

How on earth do we take this woman seriously now? Crazy....

Is Sarah going to resign in the middle of her Vic Presidency, or Presidency if she gets elected to go write yet another book? Sarah is for Sarah, not for the polar bear, Alaska, land, or additional wildlife and its people.And has already proven it.Cutting budgets on Senior,s Social Security,Medicare, and Military is an atom even Einstein could not split.Seniors have not had a cost of living raise in two years. We still owe China, and they don't want to tax the top income bracket .It's a little late to start counting on them now.They promised rebaits to green solar energy buyers here in Florida, and then turned around and the republicans in Fl. then voted to stop it.We have the energy's to stop the pollutions, we just have to push it through, and push harder then they do "vote"We need to make oil on water illegal, just like we did DDT.And save our National Parks from being bought out by the wealthy, to get to their natural resources.The oil, natural gas, and uranium all belongs to the American people, and the money for them should go back to help pay our country's deficits.

I have found this website very useful. I am very happy with the navigation, design and speed of the website.

It will sure do. I don't see any connection between the drilling and climate change but hey that's just me.

Her goal is for AK to get 50% of its energy from renewables by 2025. AK currently gets 25% from renewables.

So cool. What else can I say.

It will sure do. I don't see any connection between the drilling and climate change but hey that's just me.

It's very interesting thought. I like hear everything that could change climat situation for good. Maybe a little creazy but very bravely. She is extraordinary woman. Maybe we should listen for her more carefully.

I find climate change very real and if we as humans don't clean up our act the earth will take itself back on an accelerated pace.

I wonder what Sarah is talking about. What in the world was John McCain thinking.

Drilling for oil will neither slow or speed up global warming, but you know what will? SOlar flares from the sun.. something we can do nothing about. How about that.. Another ploy for the government to tell us how to live.

Whether on ice, land or water, animals throughout Alaska, have experienced impacts due to global warming.

Even artifacts and graves are at risk. For example, indigenous peoples have occupied the region around the coastal village of Point Hope for at least 2,000 years. This area contains some of the richest archaeological resources in Alaska. Because of global warming, the coast is eroding into the sea, permanently washing away precious artifacts and human history. Losing irreplaceable archaeological information is another consequence of global warming.

I can't believe that even Palin has bought into this global warming myth but I guess the pressure got to be too much for her. I could actually use a little global warming myself because it has been stinkin cold here. Drilling for oil will neither slow or speed up global warming, but you know what will? SOlar flares from the sun.. something we can do nothing about. How about that.. Another ploy for the government to tell us how to live.

But the truth is that the environmental price of offshore drilling could be very high, and in no place more so than the state where I live: Alaska. And those of us who care deeply about Alaska’s offshore waters — encompassing some of the cleanest and most biologically productive seas on earth — are hopeful that the Obama administration and the new Congress will act decisively to reverse many decisions of the Bush White House, which moved recklessly to drill off Alaska’s coast, with little concern for the environment. Today, few Americans are aware that, during the past eight years, the Bush administration has quietly opened a vast swath of offshore Alaska — an area more than twice the size of New York state — to drilling.

Scientists have been warning about these tipping points for decades, but few politicians have listened. Most industrialized countries led by the United States, Canada, Australia and Europe have continued to pump increased amounts of GHGs into the atmosphere despite promises to reduce emissions below 1990 levels.

It's even harder than ever to take her seriously now.

Sports Flooring re: "Dear [L]ord[,] this woman is useless." Thank you for all of your useful and substantive information you put forth concerning the subject matter of this article.

Dear lord this woman is useless.
she doesn't care about the environment nor does she have the necessary knowledge to even pretend to care.
I mean I fail to see how burning natural gas limits or stops global warming..

I would like to see evidence that burning natural gas is significantly better at reducing global warming than burning quote unquote "dirtier fuels" instead. Isn't carbon dioxide produced by both forms of combustion?

To me it seems like debating whether the death penalty should be carried out by hanging or by lethal injection. The practical difference is virtually nil (the prisoner being dead), and aside from whatever moral issues inhere, the remedy to the problem (since the death penalty has been shown not to deter crime) is incorrect.

Well this is very interesting indeed.Would love to read a little more of this. Great post. Thanks for the heads-up

If she's so concerned about climate change, why was her slogan "drill baby drill" during the election campaign?

Jill, you clearly don't know ANYTHING about Governor Palin. Energy has been her issue since she served on Alaska's Oil and Gas Commission in 2004.

She has been all about energy as Governor pushing natural gas, getting tough with the oil companies who were taking advantage of Alaskans, and also advocating for renewable energy. Her goal is for AK to get 50% of its energy from renewables by 2025. AK currently gets 25% from renewables.

Here are some sites you can check, because, unlike you, I can source my claims:

Since when did Palin become an expert on the environment, oil, natural gas, or any other form of energy? She's a hack, pretending to be anything but what she is, a two bit con.


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...


Recent News
Invitation to connect on LinkedIn |  December 12, 2013, 9:58 am »
New Cook Islands Shark Sanctuary proposed |  December 8, 2011, 8:00 am »