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Washington, DC November 22, 2016 – With Sarah Palin’s name being floated as a potential Secretary of the Interior in a Trump administration, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) points to her record as Alaska Governor as cause for concern. Her fervid fossil-fuel advocacy, leading “Drill, Baby, Drill” cheers in the months leading up to the disastrous BP Gulf of Mexico spill, is only a small sample of what could be expected if she becomes America’s chief natural resource protection official.
Less well known but just as portentous were her actions as Governor to –
- Misrepresent Scientific Conclusions. After Gov. Palin told federal officials that the state did a “comprehensive review” of the science and found no reason to support a listing of the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act, internal e-mails from the head of her Department of Fish and Game’s (ADFG) marine mammal program and two other staff biologists agreed with the Department of Interior’s conclusions that the science justified the listing;
- Run Public Lands like a Game Farm. Palin approved and expanded the state’s aerial predator control program, where wolves are shot from aircraft, and bears hunted from aircraft and killed upon landing. She also promoted killing animals in dens and other practices now banned from federal preserves in Alaska – bans that would likely be lifted; and
- Promote Development of Wildlands. Gov. Palin never met a mining proposal she did not like (or, in her words “Mine, baby, mine!”) and has yet to articulate any limits on extractive projects.
“Elevating Sarah Palin’s abysmal record on the environment to a national level would be an unmitigated disaster,” said Rick Steiner, a retired University of Alaska professor and PEER board member, who obtained the internal ADFG emails after Palin’s office asked for $468,000 in search fees to release them. “Sarah Palin as Interior Secretary would be like having the fox operate a KFC franchise in the henhouse.”
As Governor, she repeatedly but unsuccessfully sued the Interior Department, mainly to try and block or reverse Endangered Species Act protections for Alaskan wildlife. She also steadily retreated from addressing climate change, first establishing an Alaska Climate Change Sub-Cabinet and then walking away from it, eventually ending up as a functional climate-denier.
“It is hard to imagine a more divisive pick who seems predestined to mire Interior in more conflict and litigation than it has ever seen,” remarked PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, also noting the conflict between Ms. Palin’s “Young Earth” beliefs and the work of geology, paleontology and other specialists working inside Interior. “As a creationist, she might have a tough time overseeing the U.S. Geological Survey.”