McCain-Palin is the Energy / Cleantech Dream Ticket

John McCain picked first term Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska as his veep choice today. I love this pick.

She’s a 44 yer old first term, youngest and first, woman Governor of Alaska. She’s known as a maverick and anti-establishment in Alaska, and has taken on Republicans and the oil industry over ethics and pork. She beat two longtime Alaskan political heavyweights to win the Governorship. She’s a fiscal conservative, anti pork, pro drilling, and pro Alaskan gas pipeline. She used to be on Alaska’s oil & gas commission, and is a progressive on climate change. Her bio from Wikipedia. So what does the choice of Palin mean for McCain’s climate change and alternative energy focused energy policy?

In some ways she and John McCain make an energy /cleantech dream ticket. He has made his reputation in energy around proposed legislation like the McCain-Lieberman climate change bill, the most well thought out climate change bill yet proposed in the US. He’s got an energy plan hinging on domestic drilling, transport fuel switching, alternative energy expansion in power, progressive climate change policy and energy efficiency. More progressive on energy and environment than any Republican in history.

And he’s adding a climate change progressive domestic energy expert to the ticket. Not a bad combo for cleantech.

Neal Dikeman is a founding partner at Jane Capital Partners LLC, a boutique merchant bank advising strategic investors and startups in cleantech. He is the founding CEO of Carbonflow, founding contributor of Cleantech Blog, a Contributing Editor to Alt Energy Stocks, Chairman of, and a blogger for CNET’s Greentech blog.

10 replies
  1. Daniel Englander
    Daniel Englander says:

    Neal, I'm confused how Palin (or McCain, for that matter) is good for cleantech. Is it the part where she doesn't acknowledge the anthropogenic causes of climate change? Or maybe it's how she supports drilling in ANWR and sued the Interior Department to prevent the listing of endangered species, which would have prevented further oil & gas development in parts of her state. Palin is one of those wonderful sorts who believes we can "drill our way out of our problem," as she has said. Your entire characterization of Palin as a "climate change progressive domestic energy expert" is absurd. Palin and McCain are merely two more members of that ridiculous "drill here, drill now, pay less" crowd, which is one of the biggest opponents of the cleantech industry. You should also mention McCain refused to support the Warner-Lieberman climate bill – a more progressive version of the McCain-Lieberman climate bill – because of its stricter requirements and lack of subsidy support for nuclear energy. McCain has managed to abandon all that made him friendly to the cleantech industry, except, that is, his inane $300 million battery contest that everyone agrees is an aimless and hollow plea for relevancy. C'mon, Neal. We expect a little bit more from you.

  2. Neal Dikeman
    Neal Dikeman says:

    Daniel,I have always stated that energy is BOTH a supply and demand problem. Focusing on one (drilling or reduction/fuel switching) without regard for the other has never been viable. The idea that we can solve the problem by moving to alternative fuels /carbon free overnight with something as big and important as our energy industry a recipe for disaster, and frankly not economically possible. A staged compromise approach (like Kyoto was) is both necessary and the only politically palatable way to get the problem solved.The answer is always a matrix. More supply + Conservation + technology in a global framework. The Warner-Lieberman bill was a disaster waiting to happen. It basically boiled down to a several hundred billion tax on carbon that would have been born mostly by the south and the midwest, had virtually no chance of success legislatively, and included very limited linkages with international markets (read would have pushed even more jobs offshore). Climate change/Carbon is a international issue and addessing it unilaterally is a recipe for economic pain – without solving the problem.McCain-Lieberman was certainly a much staged approach, had the makings of a politically palatable framework, and including linkages to global markets, giving it some chance for long term success.On top of that, I will certainly stand by my assessment (blogged previously) that a Republican Senator with experience in bipartisan compromise bills on the Senate floor and a nuanced approach to climate change is much more likely to successfully deliver meaningful energy and climate policy without destroying our economy than "let's a change the world over night, economic consquences be damned" approach. And it is ALL about getting a manageable policy actaully delivered. Case in point, recall the Clinton attempt trying to run healthcare reform roughshod over the Republican Congressional contingent in the 1990s.

  3. Asa
    Asa says:

    Neal,Clearly your McCain boosterism has blinded you toward Palin. Quite simply, no-one who denies that climate change is man made is an honest friend to cleantech. How can we believe she'd do anything to help get a cap and trade or renewable energy bill passed?

  4. Daniel Englander
    Daniel Englander says:

    Neal, Supply and demand are clearly both important, but Palin has done nothing to allay demand-side worries. In fact, Palin's only two proposals for addressing demand were attempting to eliminate Alaska's state gas tax and developing a proposal to give Alaska residents $1,200 energy debit cards. If anything, these would have encouraged demand to increase. We're not going to move the energy infrastructure overnight, but we can develop it responsibly moving forward. Part of this involves developing oil and gas reserves, but it also involves a willingness to accept a degree of economic hardship. The challenge of developing solutions to address the climate crisis is what has driven many of us to this industry. These solutions are multi-faceted: more energy – green or responsibly developed fossil fuels, regulatory reform to incentivize efficiency on the demand side, legislative reform to incentivize cleaner energy sources on the supply side. You're kidding yourself if you think McCain-Palin will do any good for the cleantech industry specifically or for reforming energy in general. McCain has lost any maverick legitimacy he once had. A nuanced, compromised-based approach only appears to work when majority margins in the Senate are slim. If the Democrats increase their lead to 60 seats in the Senate, all of those compromise bets are off. The possibility of establishing a 60 seat majority in the Senate is highly likely. If so, we'd finally be able to move to ahead with the tax credits and internationally-focused carbon policy this country, our industry, and this world so desperately need. Finally, if there's anything we've learned from the Bush Administration, it's the role of agency officials and White House staff play in helping to craft policy. McCain and Palin will almost certainly pull their appointees from the same pool as Bush and Cheney. These are not people any one would consider internationally-focused energy progressives.

  5. D
    D says:

    I'm sick about hear that drilling will reduce our dependence on foreign oil. For years the oil companies have claimed that high oil prices are a result of the "open market". If we drill off the coast, this oil will then be put on the "open market" and will be sold to the highest bidder. Maybeeee China?Can you guarantee that oil pumped here will stay here? That's what you are leading the American people to believe when you make these statements. Drilling off the coast will only make big (bigger) profits for big oil.

  6. CRM
    CRM says:

    Neal,I haven't made up my mind up yet who I am voting for, but let me respectfully say that you are crazy! Look at the big picture; McCain pledges to be running on 20% alt. energy by the year 2020, and Obama pledges 30% alt. energy by the year 2020. That is a big difference. Both candidates have the ability to induce change, but Obama is the clear winner in this category. Who is Al Gore endorsing…enough said.Adam

  7. John V
    John V says:

    Palin also supports drilling in the Artic National Wildlife Refuge, and McCain supports getting electricity from nuclear power plants (so does Obama), which are NOT clean since they have nuclear waste (which is better: oil spills and carbon emissions? or nuclear waste polluting our water and mountains?). Plus we only have a LIMITED supply of uranium (which isn't renewable–we have about 75 years of reserves left). Solar, wind, water, ocean, and smart grid are all industries that are clean and will create new economy in our contracting manufacturing sector. Lastly, biofuels are a joke. We need to forget about liquid fuels and focus on realistic battery technologies and electicty for transportation; Detroit has got to drastically alter their product lineup and maybe their business models. A new transportation revolution will be underway and old corporations may not lead the charge. Its time to start creating government policies that direct rich investors to the US as well as other emerging economies. There is enough wealth to go around and inspire innovative clean tehnologies that provide cost-effiicent solutions for every single person on the world (Dubai does not need ANOTHER hotel). We need the leadership. Who will that be? McCain or Obama? The jury is out but politics is about trust and I trust the younger, more down to earth candidate. He seems more open to innovation (e.g. "change"–the golden word).

  8. Mark
    Mark says:

    Let's see – one candidate promises a $150 billion dollar investment into clean energy. The other promises $300 million. So which one do you think is the 'dream ticket'?This post has to be a parody, correct?

  9. Kevin
    Kevin says:

    McCain's VP pick, Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin, is more conservative than even the Bush Administration. She sued the administration in federal court recently, charging it was too accepting of climate change studies which overstated the phenomenon's impact on polar bears.The result, she argued, would be a negative impact on her state's businesses, including oil and gas extraction.Yep, she sounds wonderful for the cleantech world. Most people who deny the science behind climate change love cleantech, right?Sorry, McCain/Palin won't cut it in the push for more cleantech, particulalry in comparison to Obama. And the fact that you tried to go there is kind of sad.

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