Reminder: Don Young Called His Constituents Liars

Wickersham’s Conscience ran this post back on December 17, 2017. It’s just one data point among many why Don Young needs to be voted out. The original post has been updated slightly, and a few typos fixed.

The provision to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration and development was enacted into law in Trump’s so-called “tax bill”. Rep. Don Young (R, Assholes) told an industry support group recently, according to the Anchorage Daily News “We have in there the ANWR provision,” he said of the deal fashioned in secret behind closed doors by a conference committee.1

Rep. Young went out of his way to call the Gwich’in people who had come to Washington, D.C., to fight the Refuge invasion measure “very dishonest.” Those Gwich’in people would be the tribe of his late wife, Lou. Those are Young’s relatives, his in-laws, that he is calling liars.

But Rep. Young is in his dotage. His memory and reasoning – never all that good – are failing. Failing further. So to aid him in understanding the problem WC provides this handy visual guide.

This is what the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge looks like when the caribou are present. A healthy, intact ecosystem sustaining one of the largest herds of caribou in North America.

Caribou from the Porcupine herd gather in a drainage of the Brooks Range in ANWR, June 2009. (Richard J. Murphy / ADN archive)

Caribou from the Porcupine herd gather in a drainage of the Brooks Range in ANWR, June 2009. (Richard J. Murphy / ADN archive)

This is what North Slope industrial development looks like.

Prudhoe Bay, photo credit Florian Schulz

Prudhoe Bay, photo credit Florian Schulz

Even Rep. Young should be able to see the difference. Caribou migrate to the coastal areas of the Refuge to give birth to their calves; it’s their nursery. The uses – oil field development and caribou nursery – are mutually exclusive. Disrupting the nursery jeopardizes the caribou.

Rep. Young knows that, but he still went out of his way to further insult and disrespect his constituents. He claimed that “The people where ANWR is, that live there, support the development of ANWR. That’s who we should be listening to.”

That would be the Inupiat People, the north coastal Eskimos.

Except the Inupiat people are largely ocean hunters, whose subsistence is focused on whales and seals. That’s why the villages like Kaktovik are located on the shores of the Beaufort Sea. For access to the kitchen, as a Kaktovik acquaintance of WC put it. The Gwich’in, by contrast, are Athabascan Indians, living in the interior of Alaska, far from the ocean resources. The Gwich’in are highly dependent on the caribou.

Nor are the Inupiat anything like unanimous in support of opening the Refuge. Robert Thompson describes the complexities better than WC can. But the bottom line is that Kaktovik, the only community in the Refuge, is deeply ambivalent about the issue. It’s dishonest, at least, for Rep. Young to suggest otherwise.

And never forget that this is about crude oil, which is about putting still more CO2 into the atmosphere, and further accelerating anthropogenic climate change. Utqiaġvik (formerly Barrow) is warming so fast that the computer algorithms questioned the accuracy of the data. But Rep. Young, and the rest of Alaska’s delegation to Congress, pretend that isn’t happening, that Alaska isn’t being hit first and hardest by man-caused climate change, and that Alaska’s insatiable appetite for crude oil revenue isn’t jeopardizing Alaska’s future.

Which is yet another way that Rep. Young is lying to his constituents.

As WC said, it’s just another data point. Alaskans have an excellent chance and to turn Don Young out on his ear. Alyse Galvin has a real shot at defeating Young. She seems unlikely to call her constituents liars. She seems unlikely to be such an obvious stooge for the oil industry. She seems to care about Alaska. Don Young is none of those things.


  1. The rationale for embedding Refuge drilling in a tax bill is that oil production there will generate $1 billion in federal tax revenue. That’s not based on any geology that WC had read about. It’s another lie. 

3 thoughts on “Reminder: Don Young Called His Constituents Liars

  1. Don and Lisa are lying. The numbers for selling the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge 1002 area do not add up to anywhere near $1 Billion. They know it. But, follow the money trail from Big Oil to campaign chests and you will see why they are lying. Not to mention that Alaska is ground zero for climate change. Stay out of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge!

  2. Drilling the coastal plain of Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is not consistent with the legal purposes of the Refuge and would be an environmental crime of ecosystem proportions. Time for Young (and Murkowski and Sullivan) to go. They have all sold out to the oil industry.

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