Rogue Fact: Palin still falsely claiming stimulus money for energy efficiency she vetoed required tougher building codes
Research ››› ››› MATT GERTZ
In her memoir, Sarah Palin claims that she vetoed an "earmark for energy conservation" Alaska could have received under the stimulus package because "acceptance of the funds required the adoption and enforcement of energy building codes." When Palin previously made a similar claim, PolitiFact.com determined that she was "wrong" because "municipalities are not forced to accept the specific standards and, given that local governments set their own codes, the feds would be satisfied if Alaska merely promoted such building codes [emphasis in original]."
Palin: "One-size-fits-all codes" that were required to get funds "simply wouldn't work"
From Pages 361-362 of Palin's Going Rogue: An American Life:
The other example was universal energy building codes that we'd have to adopt if we accepted a $25 million earmark for energy conservation.
[Deputy chief of staff Randy Ruaro] printed sections of the stimulus package, as well as current federal energy department guidance, highlighted specific pages, and handed them out to lawmakers and reporters. The documents clearly stated that acceptance of the funds required the adoption and enforcement of energy building codes.
Universal building codes -- in Alaska! A practical, libertarian haven full of independent Americans who did not desire "help" from government busybodies. A state full of hardy pioneers who did not like taking orders from the feds telling us to change our laws. A state so geographically diverse that one-size-fits-all codes simply wouldn't work.
I vetoed those building code funds.
PolitiFact.com: Palin's claim that the funds were "tied to universal energy building codes" is "false"
On Hannity, Palin offered similar explanation for her veto of funds. On the June 8 edition of Fox News' Hannity, Palin stated (retrieved from the Nexis database):
PALIN: I vetoed a bucket of the money, not a whole lot, we did accept education dollars and infrastructure dollars, but dollars that were tied to universal energy building codes for Alaska, kind of a one-size-fits-all building code that isn't going to work up there in Alaska and really prohibits opportunity to build and to develop, and just wasn't going to work up there in Alaska, so I vetoed a bucket of that money.
Our lawmakers now are considering they override of the veto which is cool, that's checks and balances. You know they can explore that.
HANNITY: You don't want them to, though?
PALIN: I don't think that it would be a healthy thing for our state to adopt because it would be a federal mandate, fixed, centralized government, telling Alaskan communities that have opted out of building codes for the most part.
Them telling us what's best for our businesses and residences, how to build them, and we're all for energy conservation. We have hundreds of millions of dollars, in fact, budgeted for programs there but we don't want those fat strings attached where centralized, big government is going to tell us what is best.
PolitiFact.com: Palin's statement was "False"; she was "wrong." PolitiFact.com found Palin's statements on Hannity "False," writing:
Palin was specifically concerned with a provision in the stimulus (it is Section 410, as she will refer it later) that ties the energy efficiency money to assurances that the state or local governments "will implement" a "building energy code for residential buildings that meets or exceeds the most recently published International Energy Conservation Code, or achieves equivalent or greater energy savings" as well as "a building energy code (or codes) for commercial buildings throughout the State that meets or exceeds the ANSI/ASHRAE/IESNA Standard 90.1-2007, or achieves equivalent or greater energy savings." The provision also states that recipients of the federal money must implement a plan to achieve compliance with the building codes within eight years in at least 90 percent of new and renovated residential and commercial building space.
That language seems pretty rigid, but then along came Missouri, which applied for the money, but instead of agreeing to the specifics of the building code, committed merely to "working with communities to create model energy efficiency standards that, if local units of government choose to implement (our emphasis), should reduce energy costs for Missourians." The Department of Energy approved the application.
So Palin's chief of staff wrote to the Department of Energy to get some clarification about what exactly Alaska would be committing itself to if it accepted the money.
In response, Steven G. Chalk of the DOE said the stimulus provision recognizes that not every state has statewide building codes, and that the governor does not have the authority to force local governments to implement building codes. In those cases, Chalk wrote, it's sufficient for the governor to simply "promote" the codes. It is enough, he wrote, for the state to work with local governments to create model energy efficiency standards, but no municipality would be forced to adopt any new codes.
As for Palin's claims of "one-size-fits-all" building codes, Chalk wrote that the provision "provides flexibility with regard to building codes" and "expressly includes standards other than those cited so long as the standards achieve equivalent energy savings."
So Palin is wrong. The municipalities are not forced to accept the specific standards and, given that local governments set their own codes, the feds would be satisfied if Alaska merely promoted such building codes.
Despite these assurances from the Department of Energy, Palin vetoed the money and insisted the provision amounted to "big brother" government involvement. The state legislature is now threatening to pursue a very rare veto override.