Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott tends to go long in his remarks. As a Tlingit elder, he holds forth when given the microphone. It can be tedious. But you don’t interrupt a Tlingit elder when he’s holding forth.
Unless you are Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington State, especially if Mallott, a fellow Democrat, is not supporting her position of keeping the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge off-limits to drilling.
IRONY OR NO IRONY?
During today’s testimony in front of the Senate Energy Committee, Mallott was answering a question posed by Sen. Al Franken, D-Minnesota, who wanted Mallott to answer if he found it ironic that Alaska, impacted by climate change more than any other state, was supporting “drilling in the habitat of the food source for an indigenous people. Do you disagree that there’s some irony here?”
Franken had gone on too long, and his time had expired, but committee Chairman Lisa Murkowski said she would allow Mallott to answer.
“I disagree,” Mallott said. “We need to continue to evolve our petroleum-based economy as we also seek to be responsive to our climate change reality. Nobody knows that better than we do. We live with it every single day. It will take decades for us to withdraw from reliance on a petroleum-based economy.”
“And for us in the meantime to rely on sources on our own raises national security issues, it raises economic issues, it raises issues that impact us in Alaska very directly…” Mallott said.
Mallott went on for a couple of more sentences when Sen. Cantwell, the ranking Democrat on the committee, blurted out: “Madam Chair, Madam Chair, I think there’s going to be two votes at noon. And there’s several of our colleagues who have been here …. I hope we can get a short summation so we can move on.”
Mallott responded: “Sure. I disagree that it’s ironic. It’s in the national interest, it is in Alaska’s interest, and it is the world’s interest that we allow this kind of development to take place.”
Later in the hearing, Mallott said with a sense of irony:
“I am a Tlingit Indian, and when people ask me to be brief, I’m doing my damnedest.”
That rejoiner to Cantwell is now part of the Congressional Record.