In a freewheeling and strangely self-defeating interview on Sunday, Sarah Palin rallied behind Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump, promoting herself as Trump’s potential secretary of energy even as she pledged to abolish the department. “I think a lot about the Department of Energy, because energy is my baby: oil and gas and minerals, those things that God has dumped on this part of the Earth for mankind’s use instead of us relying on unfriendly foreign nations,” she told CNN’s Jake Tapper in an interview that aired Sunday on “State of the Union.”
Palin is alluding to the fact that the federal government owns billions of acres of land and coastal waters, containing quite a bit of oil, gas, and coal. Industry groups have long complained that President Obama hasn't opened up nearly as much of this land to drilling as they'd like. And a few groups out West have even demanded that much of this land be returned to the states. Except this all has very little to do with the Department of Energy, which mainly oversees the nation's nuclear weapons program -- a task consuming nearly half its budget -- and conducts energy R&D. What Palin wants is the Department of Interior, which manages most federal lands. They're the ones handling leases for coal mining or supervising offshore oil and gas drilling. If you wanted to transfer public lands back to the states, you'd focus on Interior, not Energy.