Murkowski: Interior Department’s Response Confirms Worst Suspicions
Secretary Jewell Admits She’s Done Nothing to Help King Cove
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, yesterday received a two-page letter from Interior Secretary Sally Jewell regarding her department’s imperceptible efforts to facilitate emergency medical access for the people of King Cove, Alaska. The community of nearly 1,000 Alaskans remains in dire need of a reliable transportation route to the all-weather airport in nearby Cold Bay after Jewell rejected a short, one-lane, gravel and congressionally-approved connector road.
“After months of waiting, I am appalled that this is the best response the entire Interior Department could muster,” Murkowski said. “Secretary Jewell promised to help the people of King Cove last December, then went silent for months. As of yesterday, we know that she and her team have done almost nothing to protect the health and safety of King Cove families, yet remain unwilling to reconsider what is by far the best solution – a road. There is nothing in Jewell’s letter that could not have been expressed months ago, when she finalized the record of decision.”
Jewell’s Aug. 13 correspondence is her first official response to any of Murkowski’s repeated letters to her about King Cove over the course of this year. Murkowski’s last letter, of July 23, recapped Jewell’s ongoing failure to respond to King Cove residents, to her, and to other elected officials.
Jewell’s letter states that one member of her staff has been tasked with looking into alternatives, in coordination with other agencies. The letter does not provide a list of alternatives, any discussion of their expected costs or effectiveness, or a timeline for their implementation.
“I cannot believe it took Interior nearly eight months to craft a two-page reply with zero solutions,” Murkowski said.
In her July 23 letter, Murkowski asked Jewell to return to King Cove to directly explain her continued inaction to local residents. Murkowski today reiterated that request in light of Jewell's paltry response yesterday.
More information on King Cove’s need for a short 11-mile, gravel, one-lane, life-saving road to the all-weather airport in nearby Cold Bay is available on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee website.