Congressman Young visits
Wrangell, discusses economy
Alaska’s lone U.S. House Representative visited Wrangell Apr. 14 and Petersburg Apr. 15 to discuss various topics with residents including hydropower development, the recently passed health care bill, Sealaska and timber production.
Republican Don Young used a meeting with members of the Petersburg Chamber of Commerce to reaffirm his decision to run for a 20th term in the House.
“I am running, and will run hard,” Young said.
Young said that hydropower is as important to Southeast residents as the gas line is to the rest of Alaska. He said that hydropower development should be a priority.
“There should be an abundance of hydro power,” he said.
He said that developing an intertie between Southeast communities as well as between Alaska and British Columbia would benefit the local economy.
During his visit in Wrangell, he voiced his support of the AK-BC Intertie to radio station KSTK.
“There should be no burning of any diesel fuel at any one time and there should be an abundance of hydropower,” Young said. “If you have enough power you can take and develop an economy in Southeast Alaska.”
He later told Petersburg residents that Southeast communities need to work together to plan and develop the interties. He said that local consumption of electricity needs to be thoroughly examined before it is exported, but said he understands that the export option may be necessary to fund projects.
“What you have to make sure is that there is enough power here for the benefit of the people that live in Alaska, to encourage industry to come into the state,” he said. “We need an energy grid in Southeast Alaska, and all the energy should be tied together so we all see the benefits from it.”
He said the benefits would also lead to decreased power bills for residents.
“Everybody would have a lower cost of their homes and a higher standard of living,” Young said. “Energy is the key to every economy.”
Young said that the Southeast economy should also be driven by natural resources. He pointed to the timber industry and the need to start logging second growth timber.
Young said he supports the Sealaska Lands Bill, and said he believes more land should be transferred from the federal government to private interests.
“I do think that there is a right there,” Young said of the Sealaska Lands Claim. “I know there is opposition to the bill, but I think it is justified.”
He said that he does not think that the federal government manages lands well enough.
“If I had my way I would take a great deal more land that is federally owned and get it into private lands, including boroughs,” Young said.
Young said that natural resources create real wealth, and that natural resources are just as important to Southeast Alaska as they were in the past. He cited some of his past arguments for logging.
“They are dead trees,” Young said of old growth timber.
He said he remembers the time when there were 10,000 jobs in the timber industry in Southeast Alaska. He said there are 250 today.
“You don’t have much in Southeast Alaska, you have the potential, but you don’t have much,” Young said.
Young said that new growth trees are more valuable than old growth trees. He said that he wants to see new growth timber utilized for timber production.
“Those new areas I really believe should be available for selection,” Young said of areas available to Sealaska.
Young said the loss of timber receipts to Petersburg schools is a reason that Southeast residents are emigrating from the area.
He said that when a community loses students it soon loses young families and ultimately dies.
Young said he opposed the health care bill recently passed by the legislature.
“I think it is bad legislation,” he said.
Young said that he heard that there would be 100 pages of regulations for every one page of the bill as it is presently written.
“That’s the problem,” Young said before giving the example of the 349-page trans-Alaska pipeline bill that he sponsored in 1973 with no regulations.
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