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Future Looks Bright For Denali Commission

Subcommittee Chairwoman Proposes Alaska Field Hearing


Washington, D.C. - The Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Subcommittee on Economic Development, Public Buildings and Emergency Management held a hearing this afternoon on the proposed fiscal year 2011 budgets for regional economic development commissions.  

To view video of Congressman Young at the hearing, click here.

Congressman Young's remarks as prepared:

"I thank the Chair and the Ranking Member for conducting this hearing.  Economic Development Commissions have proven to be a wonderful success in addressing poverty in America's rural areas.  Bringing together federal and state resources to develop infrastructure and promote economic development allows local officials with institutional knowledge to make decisions with respect to the planning process.  Much has been accomplished in years past, yet we still have much to do.

"The Denali Commission leverages federal funding with state, local, and private resources to build health clinics, bulk fuel storage systems, and meet infrastructure needs in rural, isolated communities suffering from unemployment, poor sanitation, and high-cost energy.  

"Today in McGrath, gas is $9.20/gallon and in Tanana, milk is $4.99/quart. That's $20 a gallon for milk! Compare that to $1.30 for a can of soda and we start to see why rural residents drink soda over milk and some of the health issues associated with that.  

"Communities cannot survive for long on expensive fuel and groceries.  If families cannot survive in rural areas, they move to more urban areas and try to assimilate.  I spoke with the Mayor of Anchorage yesterday about the rise in homelessness in his city.  He said 80 percent of the homeless in Anchorage are Alaska Natives.  Villagers used to a subsistence lifestyle in isolated communities have difficulty adjusting to life in urban areas.  If we help the isolated, rural communities develop their potential, we provide a means for them to maintain their way of life.  

"This committee played a vital role in providing funding for transportation improvements throughout bush Alaska with the passage of the last highway bill.  SAFETEA-LU provided the resources to build barge landings, dock improvements, board roads, and gravel roads that enable commerce to take place.  Large, bureaucratic federal agencies cannot do what Denali and other development commissions can do.

"The Denali Commission is in need of a reauthorization.  I ask the chair and ranking member to work with me to reauthorize Denali in line with the rest of the commissions, thereby allowing this important work to continue."

Federal Co-Chair of the Denali Commission Joel Neimeyer, was present at the hearing to testify on their behalf.

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