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Sarah Palin, Our Energy Answer

A Commentary by Lawrence Kudlow

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The No. 1 economic issue this election is gasoline prices at the pump. The tax-hike effect of surging oil on global markets that has translated to a huge spike at your local gas station has drained the economy of its vitality. It has damaged consumer purchasing power, made it tougher to pay mortgages on time, worsened the credit crunch, raised the inflation rate, undermined corporate profits and thrown stocks into the first bear market in five years.

Of course, with all the political hoopla from the Denver Democrats, it's easy to forget the populist revolt against high gas prices at the pump. Sen. Obama never mentioned skyrocketing pump prices or their devastating economic impact on ordinary working-class folks. But this is the energy election. It will determine our future peace and prosperity. And Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has the energy answer: Our abundant country can produce more energy at lower cost if government gets out of the way.

Coming from the natural-resource rich state of Alaska, Palin is an experienced energy expert. She knows more about the economics of energy than Sens. McCain, Obama or Biden. And in this year of the oil-shock economy, Palin's role will be absolutely crucial.

"Obama is way off-base on all that. I think those politicians who don't understand that we need more domestic supply of energy flowing into our hungry markets (are) living in la-la land. And we're in a world of hurt if their agenda continues to be to lock up these safe, secure domestic supplies of energy."

That's what Palin told me in a CNBC interview in late June. I call it drill, drill, drill. But in fact it's a full-throated America-first energy policy that will create millions of high-paying jobs with complete government deregulation and decontrol of the full menu of energy sources: oil, natural gas, nuclear, clean coal, shale and the alternative fuels of wind, solar and cellulosic.

Why aren't all the candidates talking like Palin? How can this great country put its future growth and prosperity in the hands of enemies like Tsar Vladimir Putin, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Hugo Chavez. Well, get ready for Sarah America to take on the fight against all comers.

The plain-talking governor is even tough on John McCain. The senator has said it's too pristine to drill in ANWR. But Palin told me in June that "Sen. McCain is wrong on that issue. ... We're talking about a sliver of the coastal plain of Alaska being explored and drilled for oil. It's about a footprint of a 2,000-acre plot of land. That's smaller than the footprint of LAX (Los Angeles' airport)."

Palin was pleased that McCain came around on the Outer Continental Shelf. But she intended to talk him into ANWR. Expect McCain to listen carefully. And she made this key point: The price of fuel will fall quickly in the expectation of more energy supplies, just as soon as Washington permits.

And when I interviewed her again in late July, she was justifiably furious that Congress was going on summer recess without a vote on rolling back its drilling moratorium. "Well," she said, "with all due respect to Congress, it's pretty pathetic." Meanwhile, she was taking action: Palin had just gotten the Alaska legislature to agree to a new natural-gas pipeline that was 30 years in the works.

The U.S. Geological Survey estimates that there are nearly 100 billion barrels of oil in the Arctic, with roughly one-third under sovereign U.S. territory in Alaska. There are at least 10 billion (and perhaps close to 20 billion) barrels of oil in ANWR, while old estimates suggest between 800 billion and 2 trillion barrels of oil in the Rocky Mountain shale formations.

It's also worth noting that 1.8 billion acres of the Outer Continental Shelf -- with roughly 100 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 400 trillion feet of natural gas -- are off-limits because of the congressional moratorium.

Palin grasps the strategic importance of all these domestic reserves. She's also a governor who fully understands the energy- and foreign-policy designs of Putin, who sits right across the pond from her native Alaska.

Meanwhile, Obama railed against drilling in his Denver convention speech. He is opposed to ANWR. And shale. And nuclear power. He's constantly bashing oil companies. And all he talks about is a windfall profits tax. That's why he has no real economic recovery plan. He has no interest in reducing gasoline prices at the pump. He even sponsored legislation to prevent 3-D seismic technology and other research efforts to correctly measure our undersea oil deposits.

In other words, he just doesn't get it.

That's why the pro-life, tax-cutting, drill, drill, drill, family-centered, corruption reformer Sarah Palin will be a powerful weapon in this election. Don't tell me she won't make a difference this November.

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