Rep. Don Young has much to celebrate - so does Alaska, so does the nation.
Thursday, the House of Representatives passed the crowning achievement of Rep. Young's career, the Conservation and Reinvestment Act.
The multibillion dollar bill will create parks, greenbelts, wildlife habitat and recreational sites for Americans in every state. It will send nearly $1 billion a year to coastal states to defray the environmental costs of offshore oil drilling.
This is one of the most comprehensive environmental bills ever passed, addressing everything from beachfront erosion to the creation of urban parks and recreation programs.
Overall, Alaska will obtain about $163.4 million a year for 15 years from the Young bill. Only California and Texas will receive more.
At times, Rep. Young's traditional adversaries have raised questions about his motives. He is not known as Mr. Green. But we are not going to join those asking why. This time, we are going to join the throng throwing roses at the congressman's feet.
Although Congressman Young was able to win the support of a majority of House Republicans, he must be similarly persuasive in the Senate.
Sen. Frank Murkowski, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, has warned that the solons will need some convincing. They are worried about the cost. The provisions that will put billions outside the traditional appropriation process. And the potential impact on private property owners if the government is armed with additional power and money.
It's likely that between now and November, Rep. Young will make some compromises. That's the nature of the game. But the congressman for Alaska has been so sure-footed and had such a good touch that he should play the game well.
For a job well done, congratulations to Rep. Young. Your legislation is a service to the environment and to generations of Americans.
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