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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

Palin's Record

Air Date: Week of

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin speaking at the Republican National Convention in St. Paul. (Courtesy of 2008 Republican National Convention and Reflections Photography)

Living On Earth host Steve Curwood asks Joe Geldhof, Alaska coordinator for Republicans for Environmental Protection, about vice presidential candidate and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin’s record on the environment..


PALIN: Americans, we need to produce more of our own oil and gas.


PALIN: And take it from a gal who knows the north slope of Alaska, we’ve got lots of both.


PALIN: Starting in January in a McCain/Palin administration, we’re going to lay more pipelines and build more nuclear plants, and create jobs with clean coal and move forward on solar, wind, geothermal and other alternative sources.


CURWOOD: Sarah Palin governs a state defined by its natural wealth: gold and zinc, forests, fish and caribou, as well as oil and gas. And perhaps most important -- the state bearing witness to the strongest climate change effects -- vanishing ice and eroding coastline.

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin speaking at the RNC. (Courtesy of 2008 Republican National Convention and Reflections Photography)

Joe Geldhof is an attorney in Juneau and the Alaska coordinator for Republicans for Environmental Protection. And we now turn to him to learn a little more about what kind of vice president Governor Palin would be on these important questions. Thanks for being here, Joe.

GELDHOF: Nice to be here.

CURWOOD: Alaska’s a front line of climate change. We have whole villages that are falling into the sea, people are having to leave them, the sea ice is vanishing. What’s Sarah Palin’s record on climate change? You look at some of the documents, and it appears that she thinks that this is not a human problem, not a human-caused problem.

GELDHOF: She, like virtually everyone in Alaska, acknowledges that there are significant and widespread changes to Alaska in terms of the polar ice, to the permafrost, the impact on wildlife. I think she, like a lot of the politicians up here, they don’t know exactly what the causal effect is, or they say they don’t know. They’re very reluctant to place blame, as it were, on human activities.

CURWOOD: Joe, you follow Governor Palin’s career. How green a vice president do you think she would be? As I understand it, when she defeated Frank Murkowski for the Governorship two years ago she played hardball with the gas and oil companies. What does that tell us about her?

GELDHOF: From the point of view of corporate America, she’s a renegade. It would be wrong to think she’s some environmentalist who’s against the oil and gas industry. This is a candidate, as governor, who really wanted to develop Alaska’s gas and oil resources. But when it came to the taxation side, she wanted to tax the oil, and she wanted to make sure -- and did make sure -- that the state of Alaska and the citizens up here got substantially more revenue from their oil resources. And that put her at huge odds with people in London and Texas.

Palin supporters watch her speech. (Courtesy of 2008 Republican National Convention and Reflections Photography)

CURWOOD: Joe, what about the largest remaining temperate rain forest in the world? I’m referring, of course, to the Tongass National Forest, which is also, by the way, our nation’s largest forest, national forest. How has Governor Palin weighed in on the protection for this forest?

GELDHOF: Well she has been a real breath of fresh air, particularly compared to the previous governor who just absolutely followed the forest products industry party line, right down to the end, and wanted to accelerate cutting in the Tongass. In that sense, Sarah Palin has been much more like Theodore Roosevelt who I mention because he actually created the Alexander Archipelago Forest Reserve back in the day when he was President, and it later became the Tongass. But she’s working and having her staff work on a sustainable basis so they bring together environmental groups and community leaders and people from the forest service and forest products industry and try to reach some sort of consensus on small-scale logging to keep the few remaining saw mills open. But Sarah Palin has basically acknowledged the days of having these huge dissolving sulfite pulp mills are gone.

CURWOOD: Joe, I thought I heard you compare her to Theodore Roosevelt.

GELDHOF: Well, at least on the timber stuff, in the Tongass.

CURWOOD: So, Joe, is it fair to say from your perspective, you’d see Sarah Palin in office an improvement over what the Bush administration has done in terms of environmental protection and natural areas and that sort of thing?

(Courtesy of 2008 Republican National Convention and Reflections Photography)

GELDHOF: She has demonstrated that she has an open mind and, she’s -- on the forestry issues -- turned loose her state forester to work cooperatively with the forest service, and communities and the environmental community. And they’ve had some success. They’re pulling old culverts out of old logging roads and allowing certain areas to return to forest that probably shouldn’t have been logged but were logged in the heyday of, you know, the big timber boom up here. She should get credit for that.

CURWOOD: Joe Geldhof is an attorney in Juneau and the Alaska representative for Republicans for Environmental Protection. Thanks for taking this time with us today, Joe.

GELDHOF: Okay, good luck.



Check out LOE's previous election coverage here


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