Published Wednesday, September 17, 2008
FAIRBANKS — A nonpartisan fact-checking organization says Gov. Sarah Palin is “not even close” to the truth in her claims that Alaska supplies 20 percent of the country’s energy.
FactCheck.org said Sen. John McCain also is wrong when he touts Palin as being in charge of 20 percent of America’s energy supply.
Both candidates issued the claims in interviews with ABC’s Charles Gibson. Palin also made the claim at a campaign event Monday in Golden, Colo.
Palin was interviewed several times during two days last week in Alaska by Gibson. According to the transcript on ABC’s Web site, www.abc.com, Palin said, “Let me speak specifically about a credential that I do bring to this table, Charlie, and that’s with the energy independence that I’ve been working on for these years as the governor of this state that produces nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of energy.”
Hold it right there, FactCheck.org says. Twenty percent?
“If you’re going to be an energy expert — if that’s going to be your credential for being vice president of the United States — you should at least be able to get the numbers straight,” said Brooks Jackson, director of FactCheck.org.
For 2007, Alaska is credited with 14 percent of U.S. domestic oil production, or 263.6 million barrels, according to the federal Energy Information Administration. However, Alaska accounts for only 5 percent of U.S. oil supplies, which come from foreign and domestic sources. But, Palin failed to qualify the stats as oil-only production. Alaska was responsible for 3.5 percent of domestic energy production and only 2.4 percent of total energy consumed in the U.S.
“Either way, whether she meant total energy production or total energy consumption, she was off by a full order of magnitude,” Jackson said. “I’m sure it was true once, that Alaska produced 20 percent of the oil produced in the U.S., but certainly not 20 percent of the oil consumed in the U.S.”
In a Sept. 3 interview with Gibson, McCain, talking about his running mate, said: “This is a very dynamic person. (Palin has) been governor of our largest state, in charge of 20 percent of America’s energy supply.”
According to the fact-checking group, McCain used the figure again in an interview Thursday with a Maine news station.
When questioned, a campaign spokesman said Palin was referring to “oil and gas production,” Jackson said. “Lumping oil and gas in together really gets you farther away from the 20 percent figure. ... Her statistics were way off.”
The factcheck.org account says that McCain’s campaign pointed to the Resource Development Council for Alaska for the citation.
The nonprofit council is funded by its members, businesses and individuals from many resource sectors to promote responsible development of Alaska’s resources, including support for mining, oil and gas, fishing, timber and tourism industries.
The McCain campaign did not return a call by press time asking for comment.
Jackson said political reporters seem to be paying more attention to the factual accuracy of what candidates are claiming this year — and that they’re getting frustrated when candidates called out on factual errors keep handing out the same message.
In particular, he said, Palin and McCain were put to task last week on claims that Palin told Congress, “Thanks, but no thanks,” on the so-called Bridge to Nowhere, as she has repeated often on the campaign trail. Yet, Palin kept using the phrase in speeches.
“For a lot of reporters, this was kind of a slap in the face,” Jackson said.
“I think you saw quite a reaction to that.”
Palin hadn’t even taken office when Congress removed a controversial earmark on money for two Alaska bridges, the Knik Arm bridge near Anchorage and a separate bridge that would have linked Ketchikan with its airport on Gravina Island.
The state got the money anyway, based on a federal transportation funding formula.
Her claims about the bridge are wrong in another sense, which has earned her a “flip-flopper” tag from another fact-checking group, PolitiFact.com.
After winning the gubernatorial primary but before the 2006 general election, a Palin spokesperson, Curtis Smith, told the Associated Press that Palin supported the Ketchikan bridge project.
By early February, the new governor, Palin, had cut funding for Ketchikan’s bridge from a state budget proposed by former Gov. Frank Murkowski.
In September 2007, Palin directed the state Department of Transportation to find a fiscally responsible alternative for access to Ketchikan’s airport. She said that without federal funding, the state would not be able to afford a bridge and should instead upgrade the existing ferry system, according to an Associated Press news article.
FactCheck.org is a consumer advocate for voters, “a place where perplexed, confused voters can go when they hear dubious claims from candidates … or when they hear conflicting claims,” Jackson said.
The organization is not so bold as to think its work will change politicians’ behavior. But, Jackson said, voters should know candidates are at best giving only one side of the story, and, at worst, embellishing or falsifying.
Fact-checking groups can iron out the talk and offer up straight information.
“You can’t count on just listening to the candidates to get the full picture,” he said.
Faulty claims can be even more damaging when they’re tied to a basic premise.
McCain is zeroing in on Palin’s experience with oil and gas issues as a way to ground his claims that she is ready for the vice presidency.
After her tenure as mayor of Wasilla, Palin served about a year on the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, a $118,000-per-year appointment. The quasi-judicial state agency manages oil and gas drilling, development and production and other matters on land that falls under the state’s jurisdiction.
The commission’s general concern is protection of health, safety and the environment.
Palin also is credited with securing a deal that could spur construction of a 1,715 mile long natural gas pipeline from Alaska’s far north, with an estimated 224 trillion cubic feet of natural gas resources, to a major natural gas hub in Alberta, Canada.
The deal, forged under the state’s Alaska Gasline Inducement Act, gives TransCanada $500 million in state funds as reimbursement for costs incurred in obtaining pipeline regulatory approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. The license does not guarantee that the project — billed as the largest construction project in North America — will actually get off the ground.
Alaska political leaders have sought a natural gas line for years. When Palin took office, she scrapped plans made by her predecessor, Gov. Frank Murkowski, with producers. Instead, in early 2007, Palin proposed AGIA as a transparent, competitive process.
After more than a month of hearings, the Legislature granted an AGIA license to TransCanada in August, as the project that would “maximize benefits to Alaskans,” according to findings by the state Department of Natural Resources.
TransCanada was the sole applicant to meet all the state’s criteria.
Palin actively promoted TransCanada’s proposal before a legislature that was, at times, divided on whether to issue the license.
At a Fairbanks rally Sept. 10 welcoming her return to Alaska, Palin said national energy dependence will start in Alaska with the gas line.
“When the last section of that pipeline is laid and the valves are open, our state — our state — Alaska will be a leader in energy policy and our state will have brought Americans one step closer to energy independence and one step closer to an America free of foreign suppliers that do not have our interests at heart,” Palin said.
Which is exactly what should have been done in the days, weeks, months and years after 9/11/01. All the progress that has been made in the last few years, having to do with cuts in energy spending has been made by the American public, with no real leadership from Washington, D.C. It became clear, long ago that the oil men in the White House would not lead us in a way that is best for the naton and/or the planet on which we live.
Who can possibly forget our president's call to arms, after the nation was, supposedly, under attack by a terrorist organization under the protection of the Afghan government, ruled by the Taliban?
"Shop," he said,"fly, drive, consume like there's no tomorrow; by all means, spend money you don't have. Max out your credit cards and/or use the value of your home. It's the patriotic thing to do. Bin Laden hates us for our lifestyle, our freedoms."
Did anyone really buy that?
Our president told us to do the worst possible things for our own lives, not to mention that of the nation. Can't say that I ever bought it. It just didn't make any sense. Who could have possibly guessed, on that early September morn' in lower Manhattan, where we were headed; WWIII and how it will manifest from now on is anyone's guess. One thing, however, is very clear. McCain and Palin are worse than what we have endured for 7 years.
I know that believing anything could possibly be worse than the Bush administration, stretches one's mind a great deal. It leads us to a conclusion no one really wants to face....think about. It's far too overwhelming.
If we do not; if we refuse to acknowledge the horribly unpleasant truth, beginning with stolen power in 2000, if not in 2002, 2004 and even 2006, we are going to all die of denial.....a refusal to doubt anything the current administration has done, supposedly in the name of national security is our greatest flaw, as a nation. For The U.S.A., the practice of deceit, of being inauthentic, is the worst "sin."
Someone, maybe someone like Will Rogers....a national, folk, social commentator, once said something like this: "The wonderful thing about Americans is that an administration must lie to them in order to win public support for ......say.....the war in Iraq....or the one in Vietnam or Korea, for that matter. Not so wonderful, is how easily Americans can be lied to successfully. It is almost as if we are expecting it. Would we recognize truth if we saw it or heard it? Given what I see and hear on the Internet, I can't envision how this nation is ever going to come together as one.
Is it not a good thing that Americans are so easily deceived by government, corporate grand poobahs and high hoohas. How many of us really want to be under American fascist rule? How many of us even know what the word," fascist" means and how it will manifest itself in the U.S.A.
Well, just take a hard look around you, friends. It not only can happen here, it's already well under way.
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The Nazis, Fascists and Communists were political parties before they became enemies of liberty and mass murderers.