From NBC/NJ's Matthew E. Berger
TOLEDO, Ohio -- Palin reframed her calls for energy independence today, suggesting investments in new domestic technologies were needed to reduce reliance on foreign countries that are "using energy as a weapon."
"In the worst cases, some of the most, the world's most oil-rich nations are also the most oppressive societies," she said in a policy address here at Xunlight Corporation, which produces solar panels. "And whether we like it or not, the money we pay, US dollars, going to pay for their oil only makes them more powerful and more oppressive."
Palin said oil wealth has allowed undemocratic countries to "crush dissent and to subjugate women, to oppress the people who live in these countries."
Palin has advocated for energy independence often on the campaign trail, most notably in her mantra to "drill, baby, drill" and "mine, baby, mine." She comes to the issue with personal experience, and spent considerable time outlining her work securing a gas pipeline in Alaska. In doing so, she knocked oil companies -- singling out ExxonMobil -- that she said were responsible for delays.
"They should have been competing to invest in a new means of delivering their product to market," Palin said. "They should have been competing for the right to tap into the hungry markets, flowing our resources into those hungry markets. And instead, they wanted a higher and higher price than any fair competition would yield, so they wouldn't build the line. They were holding out for more billions of dollars -- in public money."
She also targeted her vice presidential opponent, Biden, who she said voted against Alaska's first pipeline as a freshman senator.
"He kicked his career off, his political career, saying no to this piece of infrastructure up in Alaska that has safely flowed 15 billion barrels of US crude in hungry US markets," she said. "He started his career saying no to that domestic solution and it's been no ever since."
Palin noted recent drops in oil prices, but said they were due to the "market's expectation of a broad recession that would lower demand." And while Wednesday's address offered no new policy proposals, Palin reiterated that finding new solutions to energy issues -- which she said has been stifled for decades -- would be a priority for a McCain Administration.
"In Washington, we can view this period of lower prices as just one more chance to make excuses, embracing status quo, really doing nothing about it on the energy security problem that we've faced. And I think that we've heard enough excuses, and we've been lax for too long," she said. "Or we can view this opportunity as the time to finally confront the problem. And John McCain and I are so committed to confronting and fixing the problem that we face with our reliance on foreign sources of energy."
Palin expressed concerns about Russia's desires to control a pipeline in the Caucasus, and said Iran seeks to cut off nearly a fifth of the world's oil supplies. She also suggested terrorists could target oil facilities around the world.
"By relying upon oil from the Middle East, we not only provide wealth to the sponsors of terror, but we provide high-value targets to the terrorists themselves," she said. "Across the world these pipelines, refineries, transit routes, and terminals for the oil that we rely on. And Al Qaeda terrorists, they know where those are."
She said a McCain Administration would support new exploration of domestic oil and gas reserves, and continued to advocate for an "all of the above" approach to new energy sources, including wind, solar, and coal. She said the Republican administration would work to build 45 new nuclear reactors by 2030.
By contrast, she framed Obama and Biden as opposing pursuing new sources of energy because of environmental concerns, but said they have backed plans for other countries to go ahead with similar projects.
Palin also criticized Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens, who was convicted earlier this week of lying on Senate financial disclosure forms, framing him as part of the "good ol' boy network" she says she is eliminating in Alaska.
"They didn't want anybody to come in and disrupt the good things they had goin' there," she said. "But it was to the public's detriment what was going on. And as you may have seen in the news this week, Alaska's senior senator is not the first man to discover the hazards of getting too close to oil moneyed interests with agendas of their own."