Hydro investment should match gas line, Young says
U.S. Rep. Don Young says whatever effort is made toward a natural gas pipeline in Interior Alaska should be matched by dollars invested in hydroelectricity in Southeast.
“If there’s any investment in natural gas anywhere in the state, you deserve equal treatment in Southeast. I call Southeast hydro your gas line. That’s where your money is,” Young said in Haines last week.
Young said he’d pursue changes in the so-called “roadless rule” restricting use on the Tongass National Forest to allow tree-cutting around hydro sites. He said there are 15 hydro sites “ready to be constructed” in Southeast. “There should never be a drop of diesel burned in Southeast Alaska.”
The State of Alaska has promised $500 million in incentives for a company that will make the pipeline happen. Haines officials are hoping the port here will be used as a staging ground and shipping corridor for pipe.
But Young said market values of natural gas are about one-third of what they need to be for the pipeline to go ahead. “We were really dumb when we didn’t follow Frank Murkowski. He told us we had a short window. Gas was between $8 and $13 per unit and the pipeline was economical to build. Gas is now $3.64 and it’s going to go down.”
He said the state could build a pipeline to tidewater but said he wouldn’t support funding if there weren’t commensurate funds for hydro in this region.
Young said he was a lifetime supporter of public radio, especially for rural areas, and predicted that a move in Congress to reduce funding wouldn’t get through the Senate.
He also said he would again introduce a bill to compensate “landless” Natives, those whose villages were absorbed by white communities and were excluded from full benefits of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. “If I could get more land into private ownership, I’d do it in a heartbeat and I know there are people who would disagree with me on that, but show me where the federal government has managed their lands fairly or even well. They don’t,” he said.
Young said Southeast was “slowly being forgotten” due to a declining population. “This is a vital part of Alaska and you have everything going for you. You have hydro. You have the beauty. You have the minerals. You have the ability to have one of the most prosperous areas of the state and still retain the beauty that’s here.”
During questions from the audience and a brief interview with the CVN, Young said the nation has “real problems,” and cited ills ranging from television and video games to excessive presidential power, uncritical thinking and a lack of personal responsibility among citizens.
He compared present-day United States to the decline of the Roman Empire.
He referred to TV commentators on CNN and Fox News as “bobbleheads.” “As long as people don’t get involved and listen to the bobbleheads – please have your kids read and get them off those diddly-did (video) machines… People listen and watch and they don’t analyze, and that’s why you’re being misled.”
He cited a “creeping socialism” in the form of increased federal regulations that he also said led to the migration of U.S. industries to other nations. That corporations move plants and operations overseas for cheaper labor was a “stalking horse,” he said.
Young said he owns more than 100 weapons, and that he’s killed 52 moose in his life, though none in the past 10 years. He characterized where he considered himself on the political spectrum.
“I think I’m a conservative. I am not a nut. I have to balance everything. I have to represent this whole state. If I’m a moderate now, I haven’t changed my spots. (My critics) have changed theirs. I’m not going to go any farther right.”