Young explains ANWR vote absence

Posted: Sunday, May 11, 2003

WASHINGTON (AP) Alaska Congressman Don Young said Friday and award ceremony and traffic kept him from the House floor last month when he missed a vote on whether to drill for petroleum in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

I missed the vote, very frankly, because I was being honored downtown by the Waterways, which is the tugboat (and) lock systems of our rivers,'' he told Alaska reporters in his office. I was told that we had an hour and 45 of time (before the vote), and in fact we had an hour and 15 minutes. And when I was notified as again, we talk about traffic jam I tried to come from downtown back to the Hill, and I hit every stoplight that was available to us.''

A spokeswoman for the host group, the American Waterways Operators, described the dinner as a campaign fund-raiser for Young.

As soon as he got the beeper, he took off for the Hill,'' said Anne Burns, vice president for public affairs for the group, which she said is the trade association for the tugboat and barge industry.

She declined to say how much money the dinner, held at a downtown restaurant, raised for Young.

The House voted 228-197 against removing ANWR drilling from its energy bill on April 10. Young was one of nine members not participating. He appeared briefly earlier in the evening to speak in favor of drilling. He voted the next day on the energy bill, which passed.

Young said he had an opportunity to hold the ANWR vote open but ordered it closed because he did not want people who had already voted for drilling to change their minds. He then cut off reporters' questions.

What did I say? What did I tell you?'' he said. I told you I was getting to get there if I could get there, and I asked what the vote was, and I said close it.''

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