This editorial appeared in The Anchorage Daily News.
Tuesday, the 20th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, Alaska Congressman Don Young sent out a nice press release, saying right and proper things about the notorious event.
He said, "I remember the awful feeling in the pit of my stomach" when he learned about "the worst tragedy" in Alaska's history. Alaska families "watched their livelihoods destroyed." He noted that we learned some lessons, among them, "We required oil tankers transporting oil from Valdez to be double-hulled."
Those of us who were here at the time of the spill remember a different Don Young.
When Exxon's oil hit the water, Don Young was missing in action. Instead of coming back to Alaska, he was busy collecting campaign donations from corporate interests.
Because of his seemingly indifferent response to the oil spill, Young almost lost his next re-election contest to little-known John Devens, mayor of Valdez.
As we noted in an editorial endorsing Young's opponent:
"Shortly after the spill, he (Rep. Young) disappeared from sight. During his absence, he had a chat with U.S. Borax which rewarded him with a $2,000 speaking fee." U.S. Borax was pursuing a controversial mine inside one of Alaska's national monuments.
The editorial went on to say: "Rep. Young also declined to come back to Alaska when his own House subcommittee visited Valdez for a hearing on the spill. But he did get a $1,000 check from Exxon's political action committee the same day. More recently, Exxon chairman Lawrence Rawl favored him with a $1,000 contribution."
It's ironic that the Rep. Young of 2009 boasts about the double-hull mandate for Alaska tankers. During the early debate on double hulls, he supported a misleading alternative.
To read the complete editorial, visit The Anchorage Daily News.