Gov Kills Palin’s Climate Change Sub-Cabinet
Here’s another reason why Sarah Palin was a better governor than Sean Parnell.
(SPOILER ALERT: He killed an entire sub-cabinet, and never bothered to tell the public)
Remember that special group Palin created to address the warming of Alaska due to climate change, and the threats this poses to Alaska’s coastal communities? It’s easy to forget, but it was 2007 when the Palin administration created that group, after she expressed her concern over the unwelcome changes that global warming was bringing to the state. They even had an “Immediate Action Plan” for the most at-risk from sea level rise, loss of sea ice, erosion and other climate related issues.
All that happened before the VP madness, when Palin suddenly went from a populist governor who would work across the aisle and wasn’t completely insane, to the Tea Party’s angry celebrity Joan of Arc, and shrieking climate change denier.
Don’t get me wrong, she was no tree hugger. “Taking off her governor’s hat,” she spoke out against a clean water voter initiative that would have made it harder for the proposed Pebble Mine to poison Alaska’s biggest salmon fishery. And then there was the whole shooting wolves from helicopters deal. But, she did do one thing, and the Climate Change Sub-Cabinet was it. They even began the implementation of an actual strategic plan for the state.
You can look at the full page HERE. It’s really kind of sweet.
And there’s a picture of the old Sarah in her red suit and bun, signing the administrative order, with a couple of 6,000 year old fossils on the credenza behind her, and a RedBull next to the keyboard. Ah, those were the days.
Before you get too excited about all this, Palin’s “bridge to the future” turned out to be another “bridge to nowhere.” Mudflats contributor, retired University of Alaska professor, and Board member of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), Rick Steiner started seeking information about the group via public record requests in November of 2012. He wanted to know exactly what happened to the Climate Change Sub-Cabinet, and it’s strategic plan.
According to documents just released, the climate group is no more. Three years ago, after Palin quit and former Conoco Phillips exec Sean Parnell took over, the political climate also changed. All that preparedness and planning came to an end, and the sub-cabinet was quietly shut down – gone like a melting iceberg. Oil companies don’t really like to talk about climate change, you see. It kind of makes them a little uncomfortable.
“Alaska is the state most vulnerable to climate change, and its disastrous effects are here now, and growing worse every year,” Steiner said. “Convening the Climate Change Sub-Cabinet was the singular environmental achievement of Governor Palin, and now even that has been terminated by her successor, Governor Parnell. Ironically, Alaska’s present oil and gas production contributes to the global warming that threatens Alaska’s future. We can’t simply ignore this threat, hoping it will go away – it won’t.”
In a response to Steiner, dated February 1, 2013, the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) finally admitted that the Climate Change Sub-Cabinet last met three years ago in February 2010. The DEC defensively maintained that some climate-related work continued until later in 2010, but withheld all three records documenting that work. DEC also maintained that the incongruously named “Immediate Action Work Group” continued some activity early into 2011 when it, too, lapsed into oblivion.
As of this writing, the state appears to be a Climate Change Sub-Cabinet death denier, because the page is still up and kicking, even though the group is not. There’s even a page with some pretty scary pictures of the effects of climate change already in the state.
The ex-half-governor has lapsed into oblivion, and now her sub-cabinet has followed suit. And so that’s that. Parnell’s disinterest in the affects of climate change on his state, and his fawning attentiveness to the every wish and whim of the oil companies has ushered in an era where the little good that Palin did (the Climate Change Sub-Cabinet, and the ACES oil tax structure) has been targeted for annihilation.
And the more than 100 Alaskan communities at risk from erosion, flooding, melting permafrost, increased wildfire vulnerability, loss of sea ice, and impacts on infrastructure? They have been hung out to dry thanks to the oil lobbyist in the Governor’s Mansion. Alas, once again Alaskans have gotten exactly what they voted for.