Doug Brinkley, Rep. Don Young squabble over Arctic refuge


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Famed biographer Doug Brinkley has written exhaustively on the history of Alaskan wilderness, but Alaskan Rep. Don Young was having none of it recently when it came to the issue of drilling for oil at the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The two men clashed bitterly last Friday as Brinkley, a professor at Rice University and the author most recently of “The Quiet World: Saving Alaska’s Wilderness Kingdom 1979-1960,” testified at a House Natural Resources Committee meeting regarding the effects of drilling in the refuge. Young interrupted Brinkley’s testimony, calling him “Dr. Rice” and saying his testimony was “garbage.”


“Dr. Brinkley. Rice is a university,” Brinkley shot back. “I know you went to Yuba College and you couldn’t graduate.”

Young, getting visibly upset, retorted: “I’ll call you anything I want to call you when you sit in that chair. You just be quiet.”

‘You don’t own me,’ Brinkley said. ‘I pay your salary.”

Young sat through the testimony of several environmentalists at the panel, and when he got his chance to speak he noted in another YouTube clip featured on his congressional website that the Alaskan acreage they were talking about “is not the pristine area with wolves laying next to caribou, it’ll be a cold day in Saudi Arabia when that happens,” and added: “We’ve heard from environmentalists, and I understand their beliefs, but they don’t know what they’re talking about.”

After the exchange, he said he was “pissed” about Brinkley’s comments.

Brinkley got the last word when he expressed his surprise to “hear a congressman today say there’s nothing in his district. It’s boring. It’s flat. It’s not exciting. I don’t know a representative who doesn’t love their district. Every state in America’s landscape is beautiful if you love it. But some people love money more than their homeland or where they live, and I’m afraid that that’s why this fight has to keep coming up 50 years later, we’re still trying to tell people the Arctic refuge is real. It belongs to the American people.”


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-- Dean Kuipers