Palin talks energy policy

Yesterday, in only her third policy speech of the campaign, Sarah Palin tried her hand at energy policy - and, truth be told, she did a pretty okay job. Sure, the speech drifted a little from her prepared remarks, and was sprinkled with the usual folksy asides and bubbly interjections. (“I get so excited talking about energy! I want to get you excited about it!”) But she didn’t mangle her lines, and came across as someone who - while perhaps not the nation’s foremost energy expert - at least had a decent grasp on the policies she was setting out.

Unfortunately, though, while Palin’s delivery was pretty good, the actual content of the speech left plenty to be desired. We got treated to the usual drill-baby-drill, mine-baby-mine claptrap, of course; we also heard Palin tout her role in planning a $40 billion natural-gas pipeline, just days after the AP reported that the planning process had been so fundamentally flawed that the pipeline itself may never be built.

Most troublingly, we also got a new glimpse at the way that Palin and McCain would move forward on climate change - and it’s not a pretty sight. Palin didn’t mention the words “climate change” or “gobal warming” once; the nearest she got was when she said that a McCain-Palin administration would “control greenhouse gas emissions by giving American businesses new incentives and new rewards to seek, instead of just giving them new taxes to pay and new orders that they must follow.”

As Joe Romm points out, that’s a worrying distinction to draw. McCain ostensibly favors cap-and-trade climate legislation, but since at least January he’s been edging away from imposing mandatory carbon reductions, the necessary centerpiece of any cap-and-trade plan. This summer, McCain’s economic adviser Steve Forbes admitted that cap-and-trade wouldn’t “go far” under a McCain administration. The campaign even ran ads attacking the Democrats’ climate plan as a route to “higher taxes on electricity”.

Now McCain’s running mate, in remarks approved by the campaign, says that the McCain administration would try to end global warming by using voluntary incentives rather than a top-down regulatory system. That’s a sign of how far McCain has drifted from his time as a global-warming crusader; these days, his plans sound more like a continuation of the Bush administration’s disingenuous fudging and buck-passing than a genuine attempt to solve the climate crisis.

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