Yesterday, I posted a column arguing that Sarah Palin’s record on energy and environmental issues is perhaps the best place for reporters to begin analyzing her ability to govern nationally.
My column rounded up some of the coverage that had already rolled out, focusing on the excellent work of the Anchorage Daily News over the last two years. I missed a couple of recent items from national outlets that deserve mention, however. I wrote that McClatchy was the only newspaper to devote an entire article to Palin’s environmental record, but the Los Angeles Times had a decent piece the next day. I also noted Grist’s synopsis of her record, but missed an excellent feature by Kate Sheppard that appeared a couple of days later.
Sheppard homes in on many of the important caveats in Palin’s record, such as the fact that she enacted an impressive global-warming adaptation measure, but doesn’t believe that humans are responsible for the warming. Regarding Palin’s decision to raise the profits tax on oil companies and use part of the revenue to give every Alaskan a $1,200 energy rebate, Sheppard makes this astute observation:
Palin says that she, like McCain, opposes the idea of a “windfall profits” tax on oil companies. And yet her strategy in Alaska looks an awful lot like Barack Obama’s plan to impose a windfall-profits tax and use the money to give each American $1,000 to help offset pain at the pump. Palin even praised some aspects of Obama’s energy plan earlier this month.
Sheppard’s piece is also heavy on the important question of whether Palin will bring would-be boss John McCain farther to the right or, on the other hand, migrate toward some of his more moderate positions on energy and the environment. Either way, “Palin could complicate [the] energy debate,” H. Josef Hebert wrote for The Associated Press. But how she will do that really cannot be debated enough because, as Time magazine’s Bryan Walsh put it:
If Palin is still that ambivalent on climate change, it would put her to the right even of President Bush, who after years of claiming that more research was needed on the issue, now acknowledges the U.S. should reduce man-made carbon emissions to avert dangerous global warming.
Last, but not least, Hebert’s colleague at the AP, Dina Cappiello, complements his earlier work with a good follow-up piece today that focuses on environmentalists’ almost universal antipathy for Palin’s policies. Cappiello notes Palin’s opposition to endangered-species protection for Cook Inlet beluga whales, which I missed in my roundup yesterday. And adding to a list of nicknames that already includes “Sarah Barracuda,” Cappiello has it that the greens are also referring to her as the “killa from Wasilla,” a reference to Palin’s hometown where she formerly was mayor.Curtis Brainard writes on science and environment reporting. Follow him on Twitter @cbrainard.