Saturday, February 23, 2008

ANWR, Energy, And Polar Bears On Alaska Governor Sarah Palin's Menu During The Winter 2008 National Governors Conference

The National Governors Association (NGA) Winter 2008 Conference kicked off on February 23rd, 2008, and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin has a full plate of issues to present. The governors will meet with President Bush, members of the Administration, business executives and other experts for discussions on a host of issues and challenges facing states.

Led by NGA Chair Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Vice Chair Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell, business sessions at the three-day event will include two major plenaries and meetings of the four NGA standing committees. The meeting will run until February 25th at the J.W. Marriott Hotel.

Gov. Pawlenty's Chair's initiative, Securing a Clean Energy Future, was the primary topic of discussion today. Prior to the meeting, Governor Pawlenty stated, "Our country has become too dependent on foreign sources of energy, and continuing on a business-as-usual path risks our national security, our economic well-being and our quality of life. My Chair's initiative, Securing a Clean Energy Future (32 pp in PDF format), enlists the efforts of all governors to make our nation a global leader in energy efficiency, clean energy technology, energy research and the use of alternative fuels."

Governors will take part in meetings of each of NGA's four standing committees: Economic Development and Commerce; Education, Early Childhood and Workforce; Health and Human Services; and Natural Resources. Governor Palin is the Vice-Chair of the Natural Resources Committee. More details about these committees and their agendas HERE. Non-Alaskans reading this post can click on the committee links provided above and find out what their governors are doing.

And not only did KTUU Channel 2 Anchorage cover the story, but Anchorage Daily News reporter Erika Bolstad was there, and filed an initial report on the ADN's Alaska Politics blog. According to Bolstad, Governor Palin intends to meet with Republican Presidential front-runner John McCain, who is in attendance, and convince him to change his mind about opening ANWR. McCain has been a staunch opponent of opening up ANWR. Palin also wants to set McCain straight on the "Bridges to Nowhere" nonsense, even though she voluntarily pulled the plug on the Gravina Island Bridge.

However, Palin is apparently quite sold on a McCain presidency nonetheless, although she did not commit one way or another when asked if she was interested in being McCain's running mate. A Washington Post article entitled "Veep Pool Swimming With Governors" puts Palin on their short list, highlighting her high approval ratings and her photogenicity, but say that's offset by her lack of a national profile and Alaska's few electoral votes. Palin also plans to lobby Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne not to place polar bears on the Endangered Species List, but actually would like the Administration to quit dickering around and make a decision.

But perhaps Palin's most important function will be as the Vice-Chair of the Natural Resources Committee. The committee's three primary issues will be Clean and Safe Drinking Water, Endangered Species, and Energy. Here's what Palin had to say about it earlier: "Governors are looking for ways to promote clean, secure and affordable energy for our nation's future and many governors have taken strong steps to create innovative energy initiatives in their states. This session will allow us to consult with leading experts on policies at both the state and federal level to help craft a comprehensive and multi-faceted clean energy future", said Palin.

Founded in 1908, the National Governors Association (NGA) is the collective voice of the nation's governors and one of Washington, D.C.'s most respected public policy organizations. Its members are the governors of the 50 states, three territories and two commonwealths. NGA provides governors and their senior staff members with services that range from representing states on Capitol Hill and before the Administration on key federal issues to developing and implementing innovative solutions to public policy challenges through the NGA Center for Best Practices.

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