Friday, 4 February 2011

Sarah Palin and her toxic record as governor of Alaska

Sarah Palin has a child with special needs and there are others in her immediate/extended family as well. Although there are no environmental causes for Down syndrome, one should expect that other birth defects, whatever their causes, would touch her heart. She pretends to champion causes related to special needs, but never goes beyond a few platitudes. When she meets a child with special needs, the best she can do is to go "Aaawww..."

Alaska has the highest incidence of birth defects in the whole country and a responsible governor would look at the statistics and try to find solutions for the problem. That's common sense.

Let's have look at some of her policies and what impact they had, how they helped alleviate such a serious problem affecting the people in her beautiful state of Alaska. Sarah Palin's record speaks for itself.

- In February 2008 Sarah Palin's administration opposed legislation that would give parents 48 hours notice before schools were to be sprayed with pesticides and other toxic chemicals. Currently, parents get 24 hours, which the bill's proponents say is not sufficient for parents who want to arrange to keep kids out of school for a few days after the chemicals are applied. Palin's administration argued that the bill was too restrictive and would force schools to notify parents before cleaning toilets with disinfectant, which, supporters say, is not true. In the same month, members of Palin's administration testified against language in legislation that would have banned polybrominated diphenyl ethers - a flame retardant that, studies show, harms the developing brain.

- In the summer of 2007, Palin allowed oil companies to move forward with a toxic-dumping plan in Alaska's Cook Inlet, the only coastal fishery in the nation where toxic dumping is permitted. Permits could not be issued without Alaska's certification that the discharges met the state's water-quality standards. Bob Shavelson, executive director of Cook Inletkeeper, an organization founded to protect the area's watershed, said at the time: "Palin's Department of Environmental Conservation issued that certification based on the long-discounted notion that 'dilution is the solution to pollution', turning the federal Clean Water Act on its head and actually increasing toxic pollution."

- Palin then took on the Clean Water Initiative, also known as Proposition 4, which appeared on the Alaska ballot on August 26. The measure would have limited the runoff of toxic metals (known to cause developmental and birth defects, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) from all mining operations, It was aimed at stopping the proposed Pebble Mine, a huge mining proposal that was controversial for its potential impact on Bristol Bay, the world's largest commercial wild salmon fishery (for which Palin's eldest daughter was named). The project had been in the works for years, and, when she ran for governor in 2006, Palin told the Alaska Journal of Commerce that, if the mine was green-lighted, "there will be remediation from now to eternity." Once in office, though, environmental concerns took a backseat. In a TV interview six days before the vote, Palin said, "Let me take my governor's hat off for just a minute, and tell you personally, Prop 4 - I vote no on that." Alaska's mining industry turned Palin's face and words into an advertising blitz and came from behind to defeat it. The irony is that the Palins have a commercial salmon fishing interest in Bristol Bay. How could the Governor support the interests of an organisation whose actions would hurt her own business? What could have made her support their interests against her own so passionately?

- The Governor was pushed by environmental activists and Alaska Natives to pressure the military in its cleanup of one of the most contaminated sites in Alaska. Northeast Cape Air Force base on remote St. Lawrence Island in the Bering Sea closed its operations in the 1970s and left thousands of barrels of toxic waste, containing solvents, fuels, heavy metals, pesticides, and PCBs, a group of toxic organic chemicals that have persisted in the environment. For the past few years, the Army Corps of Engineers has been slowly cleaning up parts of the site and claims it will leave it safe. (One federally funded study still in progress by the state's premier watchdog on chemical pollutants, Alaska Community Action on Toxics (ACAT), tested the local water and got a reading that was more than one thousand times the level that the EPA considers safe. According to Pamela Miller, ACAT's executive director, Palin should have used her powers as governor to forge a better cleanup plan. "Her administration has done nothing to work with the military to avoid possible contamination." Scientists have also opposed the Army's plan, saying it will leave the area dangerous.

- Governor Palin is very enthusiastic about drilling in ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge) and in June 2008 submitted a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), copied to the President, Vice President, Secretary of the Interior and the Alaska Congressional delegation. If the drillig in ANWR is to be done as responsibly as in the North Slope (birth defects 4 times higher than national average) the impact among the Alaska Natives would contribute to the overall increase in birth defects in Alaska.

Sarah Palin closed her letter with an impassioned statement:

"I don't think it's overly dramatic to say that this nation's future and the quality of life for every American are dependent on the decisions you make or don't make in the next few months."

Quality of life? In Sarah Palin's world, it must mean something connected to $. People's health and that of their children is obviously secondary in importance.

In October last year, Sarah Palin posted a Facebook note about where she (still) stands on the indiscriminate exploitation of America's natural resouces.

It looks like she wishes to extend her disregard for the people of Alaska to the rest of the country and squeeze everything out of the American soil regardless of the consequences to the people, the environment and the other creatures that share it. In the case of this note, the focus is on independence from foreign sources and the tone is as divisive as ever: Them and us.

Although the Left chooses to mock the mantra of “drill, baby, drill,” and they ignorantly argue against the facts pertaining to the need for America to responsibly develop her domestic supply of natural resources, surely they can’t argue the national security implications of relying on foreign countries to extract supplies that America desperately needs for industry, jobs, and security. Some of the countries we’re now reliant upon and will soon be beholden to can easily use energy and mineral supplies as a weapon against us.

The solution? Simply, please don’t elect politicians who cast votes that lock up our plentiful supplies. Please consider the case of China bending us over a barrel as it develops rare earth minerals while we ban mining. Please consider Venezuela and Russia and Saudi Arabia and Brazil (as we subsidize their off-shore drilling) and all other energy-producing countries as the Left locks up ANWR, NPR-A, and other American lands that are teeming with our own needed energy supplies.

“Drill, baby, drill and mine, baby, mine.” Yep, the mantra may be mocked by the Democrats, but serious consequences ensue when we let the Left make us rely on foreign countries to feed us energy. The joke is on us if they win.

Sarah Palin also reiterated these views in a number of Fox News interviews and some of her speeches.

Some things never change...

(This post was based in great part on an article by Sheila Kaplan and Marilyn Berlin Snell called Northern Exposure, published in October 2008 in The New Republic)

Original post on Palingates.

Good post on Mudflats about Wasilla's Toxic Cloud. (h/t to lillibird)

More on Sarah Palin and special needs.

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