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Begich to Sally Jewell: Visit King Cove on First Trip to Alaska

“Listen first, decide second. This is how Alaskans do business.”

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich sent a letter today requesting that U.S. Interior Secretary nominee Sally Jewell make King Cove, Alaska, a priority on her first trip to Alaska as secretary.  Begich made the request as part of his overall response to the Department of Interior’s recent decision to deny residents a life-saving 25-mile road from King Cove to Cold Bay that would provide life-saving access to an airport in the case of an emergency.

In the letter, Begich writes:

“ . . .Given the current standoff over the Izembek road, I formally request you to travel to King Cove to listen first-hand to members of the community discuss their need for economic and year-round access to the Cold Bay airport as well as their long-standing stewardship of the lands and subsistence resources of the surrounding area.

“As we discussed, it is difficult for residents of the Lower 48 to understand the remote nature and difficult conditions rural Alaskans face in their daily lives.  Clearly, the Izembek EIS failed to articulate these challenges and failed to address the basic life and safety challenges of King Cove. “

“Should this decision fall to you, I ask you to hear directly from the people most affected…It also will send a message to all Alaskans that the Interior Department will listen first and decide second on all future decisions.  This is how Alaskans do business, and I hope it will be your approach as well.”

Begich met with Jewell late last month and requested that she visit Alaska within her first 60 days as secretary because of Interior’s enormous jurisdiction over Alaska issues and land use.

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