Washington, D.C. – Today, the House passed a major victory for American Indians and Alaska Natives, H.R. 538 – “The Native American Energy Act.” Alaska Congressman Don Young, who sponsored the legislation to promote energy development on Indian and Alaska Native Corporation lands, applauded the bipartisan bill's passage by a vote of 254 to 173.
Congressman Young speaking on behalf of the Native American Energy Act on the House floor (click here to watch). Young was responsible for managing floor activities during consideration of H.R. 538.
“The Native American Energy Act is critically important to Alaska Natives and American Indians because it levels the playing field for responsible resource development, a critically important step towards self-determination,” said Congressman Young. “The bill contains a number of important measures to reduce the hurdles and obstacles for energy and resource development imposed by the federal government. I’m pleased to see bipartisan support of this commonsense piece of legislation, and encourage the Senate to act in a manner that truly supports this nation’s trust responsibility with our First People.”
Young’s legislation works to resolve longstanding resource and economic development issues for tribes, which have regularly encountered obstacles not found on private or state lands. By developing legislation to streamline permitting, deter frivolous lawsuits and prevent exorbitant federal permitting costs on tribal lands, Young hopes to increase opportunity for tribes to govern more aspects of energy development on their lands.
“Beyond the many provisions that assist lower 48 tribes, this legislation contains important Judicial review provisions for Alaska Native Corporations that work to eliminate attacks by outside special interest groups. Overall, this bill is based on the principle that tribes, not the federal government or special interests, are the best stewards of their lands.”
The federal government currently holds roughly 56 million acres of land into trust for the benefit of Indians. There are also 44 million acres of lands owned in fee by Alaska Native Corporations. These lands are estimated to hold more than 10% of the nation’s energy potential, yet tribes are far behind non-Indian landowners in terms of producing energy from their lands.
H.R. 538 is supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce; the National Congress of American Indians; the Navajo Nation; the Southern Ute Indian Tribe; The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation; the Mandan, Hidatsa & Arikara Nation; the Ute Indian Tribe; the Intertribal Timber Council; and the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians.
This summer, the GAO issued a report called “Indian Energy Development --- Poor Management by BIA Has Hindered Energy Development on Indian Lands.” Click here to review its findings, which support policy changes included in H.R. 538.
Click here for more information and additional video on H.R. 538.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Tomorrow, the House will consider H.R. 538, “the Native American Energy Act,” sponsored by Indian, Insular & Alaska Native Affairs Subcommittee Chairman Don Young. The bill works to streamline federal permitting for, and increases tribal control over, energy and other natural resource development on Indian lands.
Particularly important to Alaska Native Corporations, H.R. 538 contains provisions to streamline judicial review and deter frivolous lawsuits concerning federal permitting for Native American energy projects.
“The Judicial Review provisions are crucial for Alaska Natives, whose ability to develop their land claim settlement lands has been abused by special interest groups filing lawsuits from outside,” Congressman Young said today. “These lands, given by this Congress to Alaska Natives, are now being interfered with by outside interest groups.”
Congressman Young spoke before the House Committee on Rules this afternoon to discuss floor consideration of H.R. 538:
Congressman Young testifying before the House Rules Committee on H.R. 538 (click here for video)
“In the Dakotas, during the energy boom, it took 15 permits to develop reservation lands, but only two years off the reservation... We keep talking about self-determination, nation to nation, it’s all lip service. There are 56 million acres of land that are owned by American Indians in the lower 48, and 44 million acres of land owned by Alaska Natives – bigger than the state of Washington and half of Oregon. Yet, they are precluded from developing their resources for the benefit of their people…This bill is the first tiny step forward to allow American Indians and Alaska Natives to have a real government to government relationship to develop their lands and industry, without the heavy-hand of the federal government.”
Asked by the House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions (R-TX) how the Native American Energy Act would assist the nation as a whole, Young offered the following insight:
Congressman Young: “Any time we have an abundance of energy, we become a greater nation (click here for video).”
“Any time we have energy development, any time we have an abundance of energy, we become a greater nation…We’ve been blessed with an abundance of energy. If we want to continue to grow in this country and make this the greatest country in the world again – I say again because we’re slipping – we must have a surplus of energy. With that we create new wealth and new jobs… This gives [Alaska Natives and American Indians] the ability economically for self-determination. If you don’t have the wear-with-all to create your own energy and your own wealth, you’re never going to be independent. I’m trying to help a specific group of people that’s been mistreated.”
This summer, the GAO issued a report called “Indian Energy Development --- Poor Management by BIA Has Hindered Energy Development on Indian Lands.” Click here to review its findings, which support policy changes included in H.R. 538.
Click here to watch the full House Rules Committee consideration of H.R. 538, the Native American Energy Act.Read More
Washington, D.C. – The United States House of Representatives today passed the Conference Report to H.R. 1735, the Fiscal Year 2016 National Defense Authorization Act, which would authorize $515 billion in spending for national defense and an additional $89.2 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO). Alaska Congressman Don Young, who successfully included a provision on the basing of F-35s at Eielson Air Force Base in the bicameral legislation, offered the following statement:
“Today, the House passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2016, the primary legislation authorizing Department of Defense funding. This bipartisan bill – negotiated between the House and Senate —will ensure that Congress fulfills one of our most important responsibilities, to provide for the common defense of our nation.
“This year’s National Defense Authorization Act ensures that the nation’s armed forces are ever-ready, efficiently trained for combat, and equipped with the tools and resources necessary to succeed on the battlefield. In addition to making much needed reforms to the Defense Department’s acquisition process, the NDAA improves the way our service members save for the future by creating a 401(k) style retirement plan. This bill also works to cut wasteful spending, reallocate resources to the nation’s most urgent priorities, and make long-term reforms to ensure Americans are safe from the world’s ever growing threats.
“I’m proud to see many Alaska focused provisions included in this bill, including the Sense of Congress regarding the basing of F-35s at Eielson Air Force Base. With the F-35s on track to be based at Eielson, it’s clear the Air Force heeded Congress’ words.”
Amendments included in the FY2016 NDAA by Congressman Young:
Provisions included in the 2016 NDAA of Alaskan importance:
Washington, D.C. – In response to proposals to unilaterally close off areas of the nation’s oceans to economic and recreational activity, including resource development and fishing, the House Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans held an oversight hearing today to discuss the impacts of expanding national marine monuments.
Alaska Congressman Don Young, author of two pieces of legislation to prevent such designations under the Antiquities Act, appeared before the Subcommittee in part to defend Alaska’s stakeholder based fisheries management. During his questioning, Young firmly took issue with marine monument proponents asserting this was nothing more than a “straw-man argument.”
Congressman Young speaking on the National Marine Monument Designation Process (click here to watch).
“You slip through the darkness and impose regulations. The Antiquities Act was never meant for the ocean, never. Now to reach in – you say there’s no worry about the Aleutians – fine, let’s put it into law. You want to solve the problem. Let’s put it into law. You say [the threat of an Alaskan marine monument] is not there, you say I’m a straw man, let’s put it into law – because it will be proposed by this Administration,” Congressman Young said.
Congressman Young contends U.S. fisheries management decisions must be made by regional councils, as outlined by the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Act. Seeking a more locally driven, bottom up approach to the national monument process, Young has introduced two bills in the 114th Congress to address national marine monuments.
Today’s hearing, which takes place one month after petitions were filed to designate multiple marine monuments off the coast of Alaska, including areas of the Aleutian Islands, Bering Strait, and the U.S. Arctic Ocean, featured testimony from:
Rod Moore, Executive Director of the West Coast Seafood Processors Association, testifying before the House Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans (click here).
“Under the Antiquities Act, the President can withdraw whatever federal lands he wants and have that withdrawal managed using any criteria he chooses. Don’t like trawling, poof it’s gone. The Antiquities Act provides no basis for learned discourse, no scientific, economic, or social analysis. It is whatever the President says it is. The use of the Antiquities Act to create national marine monuments is a true top down, dictatorial approach, which is frequently championed by big bucks environmental groups, in which the public, including fishing groups that it directly affects, has no voice.”
Chris Oliver, Executive Director of the North Pacific Fishery Management, testifying before the House Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans (click here).
“A flip side story exists in the Western Pacific, in stark contrasts to these examples of the deliberative, science based closure designations [in the North Pacific], can be found in the Western Pacific region where U.S. fisherman governed by the MSA and managed by the Western Pacific Council have lost about 30 %, or 665,000 sq. miles, of fishing waters to monument and sanctuary designations with little or no evidence of benefits.
“In summary, area closures to fishing or other activities are indeed an important natural resource management tool and they have been applied extensively in the North Pacific and in other regions of the United States. Successful use of this resource management tool requires a careful balancing of multiples considerations which is not possible under unilateral actions such as monument designations.”
For more information on today’s hearing, click here.
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Washington, D.C. – Alaska Congressman Don Young today shared the following thoughts in response to Royal Dutch Shell’s decision to cease exploration off the coast of Alaska:
“I’m sure somewhere Sally Jewell and President Obama are smiling and celebrating Shell’s decision to cease operations off the coast of Alaska. For Alaskans, this announcement is a major blow to our local communities, the future of Alaska’s economy, and the Trans Alaska Pipeline.
“Make no mistake, this decision is the result of the Administration’s narrow-minded approach to responsible resource development – putting large areas off limits, while building insurmountable new hurdles to use areas that have been leased. This regulatory uncertainty, damaging to the many Alaskans who depend upon responsible development, plays a significant role in Shell’s departure.
“It’s a sad and frustrating day for Alaska, but I commend Shell on their efforts. It’s a tremendous amount of time and resources to spend on a project when the Administration has stacked the deck against you.”
Washington, D.C. – Following Pope Francis’ address to a joint meeting of Congress, the first of its kind, Alaska Congressman Don Young shared the following thoughts:
“Today, Congress and the American people gathered to listen to the thoughts and wisdom of Pope Francis. Thousands, including many Alaskans, took part in this historic day and I feel privileged to be among those in the House Chamber to listen.
“The Pope’s message of unity was something that should resonate with all races and walks of life. Pope Francis reminded us all of something we were taught as children, the Golden Rule; to treat one another with respect and compassion as we navigate through our work here on Earth. As leaders, he says we must ‘defend and preserve the dignity of [our] fellow citizens in the tireless and demanding pursuit of the common good’ – words too often forgotten. Despite political party or ideology, at our core we are first and foremost Americans. We can accomplish great things, both here and around the world, when we work together.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, and Congressman Don Young recently sent a letter (click here for full letter ) to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Director Dan Ashe expressing serious concern over the agency’s upcoming subsistence harvest quota limits. On January 1, 2016, FWS is planning to implement a quota on the subsistence harvest of polar bears from the Chukchi Sea population and intends to enforce this quota through criminal sanctions.
“For thousands of years, Alaska Native subsistence hunters have taken polar bears sustainably for food and for clothing. Today, the life of the indigenous people of northern Alaska still depend on the sustainable subsistence harvest of polar bears and it is our duty to protect this traditional way of life,” the delegation wrote.
Sens. Murkowski and Sullivan, and Congressman Young are concerned that these quotas will undermine the nutritional and cultural well-being of Alaskans in the Arctic and restrict the ability of those communities to adapt to shifting food supplies as the effects of unpredictable weather patterns continue to be felt at a high degree across the Arctic.
“It is imperative that all such federal decisions be well-grounded in peer-reviewed science and local observation, and that they be made with the full knowledge and participation of local residents,” the delegation wrote.
In their letter, the delegation recommends that FWS implement a cooperative agreement with the Alaska Nanuuq Commission for the co-management of Chukchi Sea polar bears, similar to the agreement in place for the federal-local co-management of bowhead whales.
The full text of the delegation letter is attached.
Washington, D.C. – Responding to the sudden, indefinite site closure of the Knik Contract Post Office located in Wasilla, AK, U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, and Congressman Don Young have requested clarification and answers from the U.S. Postal Service Inspector General David Williams (click here for letter).
“It has come to our attention that the United States Postal Service (USPS) Knik Contract Postal Unit (CPU) #2, located in Wasilla, Alaska was abruptly closed without prior public notice on Friday, September 18, 2015,” the delegation wrote.
In an effort to obtain information to better assist affected residents, including details on current and future mail delivery, and the general lack of information surrounding the closure, the Congressional Delegation requested answers to the following questions:
· “When were the allegations brought to your attention? What is the standard protocol behind closing CPUs pending an investigation? How long do you anticipate the closure?”
· “Is there a reason why you did not contact affected customers, nor any member of the congressional delegation or its staff prior to the sudden closure?”
· “Currently customers with P.O. boxes at the CPU can now only receive their mail at the Wasilla Main Branch during business hours from 9am-5pm. Have you considered alternative ways for customers commuting from Anchorage, nearly 45 miles away, to get their mail?”
· “What steps is the USPS taking to ensure customers have updated information regarding the site closure and receive their mail in a timely fashion?”
In the days since the closure, Point MacKenzie and Knik area residents have expressed deep concerns. Ongoing correspondence with the USPS and the Congressional Delegation has yielded limited information, which includes arrangements for displaced customers to pick up mail at the Wasilla Main Post Office, located at 401 N. Main Street, Wasilla, from 8AM to 5PM, Monday through Friday. Customers may call 907-376-5327 and press 9 at the prompt for specific questions about mail pickup and delivery.
For additional information, area customers may call the Postal Services Alaska Consumer Affairs office at 907-564-2828.
Washington, D.C. – The U.S. House of Representatives today unanimously passed S. 230, legislation introduced by Senator Lisa Murkowski to transfer 23 acres of federal lands in Bethel, AK to the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation (YKHC) for the expansion and renovation of existing health programs and facilities.
Senator Murkowski and Alaska Congressman Don Young, who sponsored and passed companion legislation out of committee in the House, both applauded the passage of the bill which they say will pave the way for the construction of YKHC’s 130,000 square foot primary care facility expansion.
“I thank Congress for recognizing the need to improve access to healthcare in rural Alaska,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski. “This land transfer is critical for the future of the people in the region and their growth. Not only is this important for the health of the people who live there, but it’s also an opportunity to create jobs in the community.”
“This widely supported legislation will assist countless Alaska Natives in the Yukon-Kuskokwim region by allowing YKHC to significantly grow their operations and expand their facilities,” said Congressman Don Young. “I’m proud to have played a role in this important land transfer, and would like to commend both Senator Murkowski and Chairman Rob Bishop for the leadership they showed in making this a reality.”
S.230, which passed the Senate on June 25, 2015, is cosponsored by Senator Dan Sullivan. The bill is expected to be signed into law by the President in the coming days.
Need for Legislation:
YKHC is a non-profit Alaska Native organization that provides health care services to 58 communities in Southwest Alaska through a self-governance compact with the Indian Health Service (IHS).
Their regional hospital has seen an increase in patient visits in recent years, which has led to a strain on the 30 year old facility. YKHC plans to build a 130,000 square foot primary care clinic attached to its existing hospital to meet demand in the coming years.
In order to finance the expansion, valued at $250 million, YKHC applied to participate in the competitive IHS Joint Venture Construction Program. YKHC’s participation in the Joint Venture Program necessitates ownership of the 23 acre parcel of land on which they operates their regional hospital in Bethel; however the land is currently owned by IHS.
Both YKHC and the Department of Health and Human Services support the land transfer, however Congressional action is necessary to convey the federal property.
Washington, D.C. – Alaska Congressman Don Young today shared the following statement after the House resoundingly voted against the President’s nuclear deal with Iran. Young and 268 of his colleagues voted against approving the agreement, before passing additional legislation suspending the President's authority to lift sanctions until 2017:
Congressman Don Young shares his opposition for the President's nuclear deal with Iran (click here to watch).
"Ultimately, I believe Iran got the very best deal they could have gotten. The President’s deal gives Iran almost everything it asked for, while doing very little to dismantle its nuclear ambitions and capabilities. I honestly believe this deal will put the Middle East in greater jeopardy than ever before.
“We have a tendency in the United States to ignore those directly affected by our decisions and actions. In this case, we’ve been told by Israel and other nations in the region that this is a bad deal and I sincerely believe that. This deal puts Iran on the path to obtaining a nuclear weapon and completely ignores efforts to establish concrete, enforceable security measures to hold Iran accountable.
“While the United States and our allies in the region lose leverage with this deal, Iran gains it. This deal requires us to notify Iran when and where inspections would take place, provides billions of dollars in sanctions relief to a nation that supports terrorism, and allows major restrictions to sunset in 8-15 years. Simply put, this deal puts us in a much weaker position. Iran won, which I think will have terrible implications for the Middle East. Some will say this is the best deal we could have gotten, but a bad deal is still a bad deal. I voted in the best interest of the United States and the Middle East.
“I hope to live long enough to see that I was wrong, but I expect to live long enough to see I was right and Iran will get a nuclear weapon. My vote against the President’s nuclear deal with Iran was cast today on behalf of freedom, the United States, and our allies in the Middle East.”
2314 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Congressman Don Young was re-elected to the 113th Congress in 2012 to serve his 21st term as Alaska’s only Representative to the United States House of Representatives. First sworn in as a freshman to the 93rd Congress after winning a special election on March 6, 1973, Congressman Young is today the 1st ranking Republican member and the the 4th ranking overall member of the House of Representatives.
Congressman Young served as Chairman of the House Resources Committee from 1995 to 2001 and then as the Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee from 2001-2007. In the 110th Congress, Representative Young returned to the helm of the Resources Committee to lead his fellow Republicans as the Ranking Member. In the 112th Congress, he was chosen to serve as the Chairman for the Subcommittee on Alaska Native and Indian Affairs. Rep. Young currently serves as a senior Republican on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and House Natural Resources Committee.
Congressman Young calls Fort Yukon, Alaska home; a remote village of approximately 700 people located 7 miles above the Arctic Circle in Alaska’s central interior region. Born on June 9, 1933 in Meridian, California, he earned his associate degree at Yuba Junior College in 1952, and his bachelor’s degree in teaching at Chico State College in 1958. Between earning these degrees, he served in the US Army’s 41st Tank Battalion from 1955 to 1957.
When he first moved to Alaska, Congressman Young made a living in construction and tried his hand at commercial fishing, trapping, and in the search for gold. In Fort Yukon he taught in a 25-student, 5th grade elementary class in the Bureau of Indian Affairs school. Constructed of logs, the school had a wood stove that kept his Alaska Native students warm in the sub-freezing, arctic winter. With the annual spring break-up of the river ice, he captained his own tug and barge operation to deliver products and supplies to villages along the Yukon River. Even today, he remains the only licensed mariner in Congress.
It was in Fort Yukon that Rep. Young met and married a young bookkeeper named Lu. Lu was always at the Congressman’s side and supported him throughout his public service career. Lu and Don were married for 46 years, they were blessed with and raised two daughters, Joni and Dawn, and 14 grandchildren. Mrs. Young passed away on August 2, 2009.
Congressman Young first entered public service in 1964 when he was elected Mayor of Fort Yukon. Two years later, Alaskan voters elected him to the State Legislature in Juneau where he served in the State House from 1966 to 1970, and later in the State Senate from 1970 to 1973. Just hours after being sworn in to United States House of Representatives in 1973, he found himself leading the historic battle for approval of the Trans-Alaskan Pipeline. Often citing this as the single most important achievement in his career, Congressman Young stated, “Next to statehood itself, the most historical legislation passed that affected every Alaskan then, now, and in the future, was the passage of the pipeline legislation.”
That same year, his colleagues honored him as the “Freshman Congressman of the Year.” He went on to gain a key appointment on the then Merchant Marine and Fisheries Committee where he pushed through the 200-mile fishing limit critical to Alaska’s fishing industry. He fought against federal control of lands and resources to which Alaskans are rightfully entitled – a battle he continues today with the same vigor. In 1997, he passed by a 419-1 vote, the National Wildlife Improvement Act, which sets guidelines for the nation’s 500-plus wildlife refuges.
Congressman Young proudly serves as the “Congressman for All Alaska” and loves his role as the only Alaskan Representative in Congress. Renewed by the challenges and goals of the 111th Congress and his committee positions, Congressman Young will continue to champion legislation and funding for programs benefiting Alaska and the nation. His vision remains the same – to provide citizens with the opportunity for a better life not just for today, but also for tomorrow and the future.
Gridlock after canceled Speaker election, someone had to take charge. Real news, House passes Native Am. Energy Act http://t.co/fMGN69TLWq
President signs newest Obamacare fix. Repeal and replace still needed, but targeted fixes & relief are important http://t.co/sCx0qlx4N0
Native American Energy Act gives AK Natives & Indian tribes chance 2 utilize their lands w/o heavy hand of fed gov't http://t.co/IHVBFKhD4m
247 House Republicans in gridlock after a canceled leadership election, someone had to take charge. In actual news, the House passed my bipartisan
Today, the House passed bipartisan legislation to resolve longstanding resource and economic development issues for tribes, who regularly encounter
I maintain that Obamacare needs to be repealed and replaced, but the only way to find immediate relief from the President’s overbearing and
I’ve sponsored legislation to streamline responsible energy and natural development by improving the federal permitting process on Indian lands.
I introduced H.R. 538, the Native American Energy Act, to give Alaska Natives and American Indians a real opportunity to utilize their lands