Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Palin can't get her energy facts straight

The Washington Post Fact Checker Michael Dobbs has awarded Sarah Palin four Pinocchios (the worst lie possible) for continuing to claim that she oversees "nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of oil and gas" as Governor of Alaska. Fact-checker Post on Palin The real figure is 7.4%.  Besides which, the whole claim is complete campaign hyperbole because no Governor has substantial responsibility for managing production of oil and gas on federal, tribal, and private lands.  The scary thing is that Palin has been touted by John McCain as the most knowledgable person in America on energy issues.  That's a good measure of McCain's ability to assess and recruit 1st class talent if he became president.

As Dobbs observed Palin has been having trouble getting her basic energy statistics straight.

Last week, Sarah Palin told Charlie Gibson of ABC News that her state, Alaska, produced "nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of energy." Yesterday, she told a campaign rally in Golden, Colorado, that she had been responsible for overseeing "nearly 20 percent of the U.S. domestic supply of oil and gas." Both claims are way off.

The Facts

While Alaska is a leading producer of crude oil, it produces relatively little natural gas, hardly any coal, and no nuclear power. Its share of oil production has been declining sharply, and now ranks lower than Texas and Louisiana. As the following table shows, Alaska is the ninth largest energy supplier in the United States, accounting for a modest 3.5 percent share of the nation's total energy production.

StateTotal productionPercent of U.S. Total
Texas10,829 Trillion Btu15.6
West Virginia4,0615.8
New Mexico2,7523.9

SOURCE: Energy Information Administration

After the non-partisan pointed out Palin's error in her interview with Gibson, the Alaska governor revised her claim somewhat, limiting it to oil and gas. But data compiled by the Energy Information Administration contradict her claim that she oversees "nearly 20 percent" of oil and gas production in the country. According to authoritative EIA data, Alaska accounted for just 7.4 percent of total U.S. oil and gas production in 2005.

It is not even correct for Palin to claim that her state is responsible for "nearly 20 percent" of U.S. oil production. Oil production has fallen sharply in Alaska during her governorship. The state's share of total U.S. oil production fell from 18 percent in 2005 to 13 percent this year, according to the EIA.

Economics, Energy, Governance/Management, North America, US | Permalink

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