The Facts About Sarah Palin and John McCain

The Sierra Club

Editor's Note: From our friends at The Sierra Club, the facts about Sarah Palin and John McCain and their records on the environment

Sierra ClubControversy has swirled around the record of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin ever since John McCain named her to the Republican ticket. Given her short but highly controversial record as governor, the growing controversy over these important issues comes as no surprise to the Sierra Club.

Numerous battles with Palin and her administration have made it clear to our members in Alaska and elsewhere that she is not a maverick, but rather just another Alaska politician with close ties to Big Oil and other special interests who is on the wrong side of many issues critical to America’s future

In the face of growing scrutiny, it is clear that much of the record presented by the McCain campaign is either misleading or an outright lie.

Sarah Palin doesn’t believe in man--made global warming, McCain campaign says it doesn’t matter.

Palin recently stated: "A changing environment will affect Alaska more than any other state, because of our location," Palin said, adding, "I'm not one though who would attribute it to being man--made." (Newsmax, 08/29/2008)  She also has said "I'm not an Al Gore doom--and--gloom environmentalist blaming the changes in our climate on human activity." (Fairbanks News--Miner, 12/04/07)

The campaign responded by saying that "You don’t expect the running mates to agree on every single issue."  This flip response is yet another troubling sign that tackling global warming is simply no longer a priority for John McCain----either now or should he and Sarah Palin be elected.

Palin continues to support construction of the "On--ramp to Nowhere" on Gravina Island.

Either through accident or insult, a separate earmark for approximately $24 million for the Gravina Island access road to the Bridge to Nowhere was allowed to remain. Yet, instead of canceling a three--mile long road to an empty beach, the Palin Administration has continued to construct an On--ramp to Nowhere. Once again, Palin could’ve chosen to cancel the project and return the money to the federal treasury. The Heritage Foundation opined: "If she returned the federal money, Palin would be signaling to the rest of the country that, under her administration, Alaska will carefully handle taxpayer dollars responsibly."

Palin, of course, did not cancel the project or send the money back and construction of the road continues.  

Palin has called for a "mutually beneficial" relationship with Big Oil.

Palin recently outlined her views on the proper relationship between Big Oil and the government: "When I look every day, the big oil company's building is right out there next to me, and it's quite a reminder that we should have mutually beneficial relationships with the oil industry." (Roll Call, 08/25/08)

While McCain--Palin campaign ads claim that they are reformers who will take on Big Oil, Tom Friedman of the New York Times wrote last week that "Palin’s much ballyhooed confrontations with the oil industry have all been about who should get more of the windfall profits, not how to end our addiction."

Palin is also one of the biggest proponents of drilling off our coasts and in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, something even the Bush administration admits would do nothing to help lower gas prices--today, tomorrow, or even two decades from now. And just recently she told ABC News that she would keep working on John McCain in order to change his position on Arctic drilling, something he himself said he’d consider earlier this year.  

Palin likes energy tax rebates for Alaskans   when paid for by a windfall profits tax on oil companies; McCain attacks identical policy proposed by Obama for all Americans  .

Under Sarah Palin’s administration, taxes on oil companies were increased in order to pay for an additional $1,200 rebate to every Alaskan (in addition to the oil tax--funded annual checks each Alaska resident already receives). Indeed, Alaska taxes some 75 percent of the value of each barrel of oil.

Nevertheless, McCain has repeatedly and strenuously attacked Barack Obama’s plan to tax oil companies’ record profits in order to provide working Americans with a $1,000 emergency tax rebate.  

Even the Bush administration’s backhanded listing of the polar bear and subsequent proposed gutting of Endangered Species Act doesn’t go far enough to protect Big Oil for Sarah Palin.

After months of delay, the Bush administration finally agreed to list the polar bear as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.  Yet, the backhanded listing explicitly prohibited using the law to halt either of the two main threats to the bear: global warming and drilling in the seas off Alaska.

The hollow listing laid the groundwork for the additional changes recently proposed by the administration that would effectively gut the bedrock environmental law.

Yet, the listing was still not hollow enough for Sarah Palin. Citing threats to oil exploration, Palin’s administration filed suit and has moved aggressively to stop the listing of the iconic species, even as scientific evidence about increasingly perilous situation faced by the bear continues to mount. Palin even allocated $2 million in state funding to a conference meant to "highlight arguments that global warming isn't threatening the survival of polar bears."

Both Sarah Palin and John McCain question the role of clean energy and have a concrete record of opposing it.

Palin ignores the economic reality of the clean energy revolution already underway, recently stating: "alternative--energy solutions are far from imminent and would require more than 10 years to develop." This echoes comments made by McCain himself last December: "The clean tech -- the truly clean technologies don't work."  

Though they may pay lip service to renewable energy in their stump speeches, the McCain--Palin record on renewable energy makes it clear that drilling--not renewable energy--would be the real focus of a McCain--Palin administration’s energy policy. In the same budget that funded a conference questioning global warming, Palin vetoed $20 million in funding for a wind farm. (Alaska has a line--item veto.)  Numerous other clean energy projects in Alaska are languishing for lack of funding.

Meanwhile, McCain has consistently voted against renewable energy policies and his failure to even show up and vote more than 8 times on essential renewable energy tax incentives has doomed them to failure. (Senate Votes: 1999, #171; 2001, #125; 2002, #50, #55, #59; 2005, #141, #363; 2006, #42; 2007, #97, #223, #416; and 2008, #8, #95, #147, #150, #190, and #192.)

Palin was for the "Bridge to Nowhere" before she was against it, kept the money anyway.

Sarah Palin and the McCain campaign have now repeated the lie that she told Congress "thanks, but no thanks" for the Bridge to Nowhere more than two dozen times. The truth is that as a candidate for governor in 2006, Palin strongly supported the project, stating: "Yes. I would like to see Alaska’s infrastructure projects built sooner rather than later. The window is now--while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist." (Anchorage Daily News, 10/06)    

Palin also attacked those who attacked the project as wasteful: "We need to come to the defense of Southeast Alaska when proposals are on the table like the bridge and not allow the spinmiesters to turn this project or any other into something that's so negative." (Wall Street Journal, 9/9/08)

Massive public outcry caused the project to become a national joke--even the conservative Heritage Foundation called it "an embarrassment to the people of Alaska and the U.S. Congress." Following this outcry and cost overruns that would have forced the State of Alaska to spend several hundred million dollars of its own money to complete the project, Palin reluctantly acceded to the reality of the situation and agreed to cancel the project. Indeed, she lamented that Congress and American taxpayers had not been forthcoming enough with funding for the project: "Despite the work of our congressional delegation, we are about $329 million short of full funding for the bridge project, and it’s clear that Congress has little interest in spending any more money on a bridge between Ketchikan and Gravina Island." (9/21/07)

Extremely conservative Sen. Tom Coburn proposed that the bridge’s funding, some $233 million, be stripped and redirected toward re--construction projects along the hurricane--ravaged Gulf Coast (a proposal supported by the Sierra Club). Now--indicted Sen. Ted Stevens and Rep. Don Young dug in their heels and refused. Eventually a "compromise" was struck that removed the earmark for the bridge but provided Alaska with the full $200+ million to spend as it saw fit.  

If Sarah Palin really objected to the bridge, earmarks, or the corrupt political establishment in Alaska, she could’ve heeded the calls of liberals and conservatives alike to return the money.  

Instead, she simply kept it.    

It’s time to hold the McCain campaign accountable. They can’t be blamed for wanting to tell people what they want to hear--and American’s want change, they want energy independence and they want a clean energy future.  Unfortunately McCain’s record, positions and choice of VP demonstrate a significantly different reality than what the campaign attempts to portray. 


If you see any unhelpful comments, please let us know immediately.

michelle (anonymous)

i thick that is wrong

Written in September 2008

michelle63 (anonymous)

McCain/Palin Wrong for America.

Barack Obama for President.

Written in September 2008

Jenny (anonymous)

I would vote for Obama

Written in October 2008

Lolla (anonymous)

GO! mcain

Written in October 2008

Rain (anonymous)


Written in October 2008

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  • Posted on Sept. 23, 2008. Listed in:


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