Sarah Palin and the Oil Politics of Alaska
I must confess, when I first heard that the majority of Alaskans supported drilling in the ANWAR Arctic refuge, I was incredulous. How could the people that LIVE there– clearly having chosen to live in the wildest place in North America for that very reason, to be close to pristine nature—want to allow oil wells and pipelines to scar and potentially pollute such a rare and untouched place? Don’t they love their caribou? (at least for dinner)
But in a recent Truthout.org article by Robert Scheer, I finally understood the Alaskan mindset.
(Sections below in italics are excerpted from article)
Most people are now aware of Sarah Palin, the Govenor of Alaska, and her claims to have “cleaned up” the corruption and largess in Alaska politics. Her claims include selling the State owned private jet on ebay ( a lie.. it was only listed but sold though a broker –
) and turning down the funding for the now infamous 200 million dollar “bridge to nowhere” ultra-pork earmark (she originally supported the boondoggle before McCain and others blasted it).
What most people probably don’t know is that while the mayor of Wasilla, a town of 6000 inhabitants, Mrs. Palin hired a big-time lobbying firm intimately connected with the state’s now-indicted Republican Sen. Ted Stevens and thus obtained $27 million in federal earmarks during her tenure. As The Washington Post calculated in a devastating report on Mayor Palin’s assault on the federal treasury, her home town of Wasilla (with about 6,000 inhabitants in 2002 when she was mayor) received $6.1 million, or $1,000 per resident in earmarks, almost as much as Boise, Idaho, got this year with a population that is 30 times larger.
It obviously helped to have Alaska’s now-indicted senator as chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee. And despite McCain’s claims that Palin distinguished herself by breaking with Alaska’s discredited Republican establishment in February, the governor sent Stevens a request for $200 million to support various state projects. With representatives like that, it’s no wonder that Alaska, despite its oil boom, is still at the top of states subsidized by federal dollars, receiving $1.84 back from Washington for every $1 that Alaskans pay in federal taxes. (California receives 78 cents for every $1.)
But I suppose no one could blame governor Palin for trying to secure free federal money, except for a little know fact—Alaska is has many very lucrative oil leases from existing wells on State owned property, which allow Mrs Palin as Governor to pass down the surplus to every single man, woman and child in a $3200 a year in a cash payout. For a family of seven like Palin’s that is $22,400.00 per year stipend. But more important is the bigger picture. When I take $3200 and multiply it by the roughly 600,000 residents of Alaska (06 census) I get a $2.14 BILLION surplus passed down to Alaskans every year. SO exactly WHY do they need $200 million more from US to pay for there infrastructure projects? Any wonder why Sarah Palin is popular in Alaska?
So much for the fiscal conservatism of Governor Sarah Palin. It appears that Alaska looks less like a US State and more like an Oil Caliphate every day. And it is perfectly clear why the majority of Alaskans want to drill in ANWAR. Every Alaskan is in the Oil Business.
(Another little know fact about Wassila, Alaska? They had 43 (corrected) Meth Labs busted last year alone in the little town of 6000. Is that a lot? )