Palin Could Prompt McCain Flip-Flop on Drilling

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Since he began his campaign, John McCain has abandoned just about every position on which he had displayed his independence from President Bush. But his opposition to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) had, until recently, been perhaps the last remaining evidence of the maverick McCain.

His choice of Alaska governor Sarah Palin as his running-mate could well end that. The Weekly Standard this week described Palin as “the nation’s most prominent advocate of drilling in ANWR,” the wildlife refuge that environmentalists see as one of America’s most precious natural wilderness areas (though she admits it would take at least 5 years to have any).

In a June interview with CNBC, Palin judged that McCain was likely to “evolve” into supporting drilling. That now looks prescient. Earlier this week, McCain told the Standard that he’s considering flip-flopping on his anti-drilling stance, and that he plans to talk to Palin about the issue.

Indeed, it looks like the Bush administration is too pro-environment for Palin. Earlier this month, the state of Alaska sued the federal government for listing the polar bear as an endangered species.

Palin’s husband, Todd Palin, is a production operator for BP on Alaska’s North Slope.

Update: The oil industry seems to agree. The Institute for Energy Research, an industry-backed group, just sent out the following message to reporters: “FYI: John McCain’s selection of Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate naturally places ANWR energy production front and center in the policy debate once again. Visit IER’s website for facts on ANWR oil and gas estimates, arctic production technologies, wildlife
statistics, and more.”