Emails: Palin cheered Obama’s ‘flipflopping’ on offshore drilling

Sarah Palin cheered then-candidate Barack Obama’s support for expanded offshore drilling three weeks before Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) picked her as his 2008 running mate in late August of that year, according to an email released Friday.

In a subsequent email at the time, she also noted that Obama’s support for building a natural-gas pipeline from Alaska to the lower 48 states is “pretty cool” while claiming he’s still the “wrong candidate.”

The trove of emails from her tenure as Alaska governor includes a response to Obama’s big Aug. 4, 2008 energy speech, one that came during an election season marked by record oil and gasoline prices.

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The email shows Palin is pleased with several of Obama’s proposals, but claims he “stole” them. Mother Jones, one the news outlets that sought the emails and is posting them online, flagged the message earlier Friday.

“He gave a great speech this morn in Michigan—mentioned Alaska. Stole ou[r] Energy Rebate $1000 check idea, stole our TC-Alaska gasline talking points, etc. So.... we need to take advantage of this a[nd] write a statement saying he's right on. (Glad he's flipflopping on OCS, too.) Joe— could you help crank this quick statement out as our 'reaction' to some of Obama's good points this morning?” Palin wrote to aides including energy adviser Joe Balash on Aug. 4, 2008.

Days before the August 2008 energy speech, Obama said he supported a compromise on wider offshore oil-and-gas drilling as part of a broader energy package in order to get traction for energy legislation on Capitol Hill. 

Obama’s speech also called for a rebate for Americans facing high energy prices, which Palin references in the email.

“I believe we should immediately give every working family in America a $1,000 energy rebate, and we should pay for it with part of the record profits that the oil companies are making right now,” Obama said at the time.

Palin, in another Aug. 4, 2008 email, notes, “[Obama] did say 'yay' to our gasline. Pretty cool. Wrong candidate.”


Obama’s speech voiced support for building a long-delayed pipeline to bring natural gas from Alaska’s north slope to the lower 48 states (a project that energy companies still aren’t building amid competition from abundant lower-48 gas supplies).

Palin today is a frequent critic of White House energy policies, joining other Republicans in claiming President Obama places too many restrictions on U.S. drilling.

Where to allow offshore drilling has frustrated the White House.

President Obama called for a drilling expansion in March of 2010 that would include leasing in areas off the Atlantic Coast, and the eastern Gulf of Mexico (where it’s largely banned under current law), and wider Alaskan offshore development.

But in December of last year, in the wake of the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and months-long spill that followed, the administration walked away from the Atlantic Coast and eastern Gulf plan, and sounded more cautious notes on Alaska.

However, several weeks ago amid the gas price surge, Obama announced plans aimed at accelerating drilling in areas of the Gulf and offshore Alaska where it’s currently allowed, as well as some onshore areas.