Sarah Palin Supports Renewable Energy? You Betcha!…Sort of

I’m not exactly the biggest fan of the Republican Party’s Great White Hope. Sarah Palin seems to believe it requires no more intelligence or sophistication to run the United States of America than a 7-11 outside of Juneau.

She is also terrifying to anyone who believes global warming is real. Despite being Governor of the most warming-affected state in the nation, Alaska, she doubts man-made global warming, and she knows just how to articulate that position in a way that inspires like-minded folks across this great nation of ours. It’s like she’s a messiah for willful ignorance — some people can’t get enough of it.

But when it comes to renewable energy, Sarah may be more open to Change than climateers think.

Does SP stand for solar panel?

Take, for example, her recent appearance (Youtube) at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference, a big GOP show in New Orleans, where she said “we should create a competitive climate for investment in renewables and alternatives that are economical and doable.”

OK OK yes, she followed that surprisingly centrist statement with a rambling diatribe about “Gore-gate,” a.k.a the new right-wing term for the stolen climate e-mails fandango, and called climate science “snake oil,” interspersed with liberal use of the word “stuff” in lieu of actual knowledge of the subject she’s talking about.

Her statement had Joseph Romm at Climate Progress foaming at the mouth. For a climatologist, hearing their work called “snake oil” must be hard to take, especially from such a prominent figure who, as unlikely as it may be, could one day be President.

But if you cut out everything from that statement that isn’t political point-scoring, you’re left with “a competitive climate for investment in renewables and alternatives.” If she was really as much of a Luddite as she pretends to be she’d be bashing solar panels and wind turbines along with “Gore-gate.” But she ain’t.

In fact, when she was still governor of Alaska she introduced an initiative (pdf) to get half that state’s electricty from renewables by 2025. The plan was called “very forward thinking” by Kate Troll, executive director of the Alaska Conservation Alliance.

Maybe I’m naive, but I see an opening here. Americans like renewable energy, they like energy security, they like green jobs. Republicans see this and are afraid. Ronald Reagan may have famously removed the solar array from the White House roof, but today’s GOP knows better than to trash a potentially important source of economic growth — whatever they think of global warming.

Of course Republicans supported health care reform too, in theory.

BC (Ben) Upham is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. He has written for the New York Times, and was a writer and editor for News Communications, Inc., a local paper consortium serving Manhattan. When he's not blogging on green issues -- and especially renewable energy -- he's hiking in the Angeles Mountains or hanging out at El Matador.