ICYMI: Alaska Legislature and NCAI take up resolutions of support for King Cove
ICYMI: Support continues to grow for the people of King Cove, Alaska, and their effort to secure safe, reliable access to the all-weather airport in neighboring Cold Bay. The Alaska State Legislature is advancing a resolution calling on Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to reverse her decision denying a life-saving road for King Cove. U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski on Monday testified via teleconference in favor of the resolution, saying Secretary Jewell’s decision deprived King Cove of its “best and safest option for emergency medical access to Cold Bay.”
Murkowski told the legislature:
“I have written to Secretary Jewell on three separate occasions since her decision, but have yet to receive any response. Most notably, on Feb. 11, I asked her to follow through on the promises she made when rejecting the road. Yet neither she, nor her department or agencies, have transmitted a single idea so far. Not one employee at Interior has done one thing to improve this situation.
“The worst news is that help is not on the way, unless we make the case so strong it becomes unavoidable. That’s our task now. The people of King Cove have been deserted by their own federal government, and fear they will not be able to reach medical care should they need it. We can see in this decision what the federal government thinks of the people of the West, and how blithely willing it is to impose federal land restrictions that impact our lives. And we can see that this Administration, in particular, believes Alaska must be protected from Alaskans…. We must continue to send a clear message that we will not accept the status-quo when the lives of Alaskans are at risk.”
Also, the Anchorage Daily Planet has an opinion piece (pasted below) urging the state legislature to swiftly approve the resolution and show that Alaskans are united in their opposition to Secretary Jewell’s decision.
Also this week, The National Conference of American Indians (NCAI) reiterated its support for the Aleut of King Cove and their effort to secure road access to a nearby all-weather airport for emergency medical flights to hospitals in Anchorage. The NCAI yesterday re-adopted its resolution supporting King Cove on the floor of their annual winter meeting in Washington, D.C. The resolution was an update of the tribal organization’s earlier declaration of support. NCAI is the oldest and largest American Indian and Alaska Native organization.
More information about King Cove and the Izembek land exchange is available on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee website.
Editorial: Izembek resolution (Anchorage Daily Planet)
The (Alaska) Legislature should quickly get behind a six-page resolution offered by Rep. Bob Herron that urges Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to reconsider her decision putting the kibosh on a land swap necessary for a road between King Cove and an all-weather runway at Cold Bay.
The state and the King Cove Corp.’s offer of 61,000 acres of land in return for about 1,800 acres in and around the 300,000-acre Izembek National Wildlife Refuge is still on the table. About 206 acres would be needed for the 9-mile, single-lane, gravel road.
The Bethel Democrat’s resolution characterizes Jewell’s rejection of the land deal as “heartless and cold.” It was heard in House Resources earlier this week and drew praise from Sen. Lisa Murkowski.
“I think this resolution will help affirm that as Alaskans we are united in opposition to the secretary’s decision, and that we’re united to protect the health and safety of those who live in King Cove,” she said.
She reminded the committee that Jewell had pledged to find a different solution when she rejected the road almost three months ago, but nothing has happened.
“And each day, each day that passes, the people of King Cove are further put at risk because of a decision that our own federal government has made,” she said.
Jewell sided with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to block the trade at Christmas and already a Coast Guard medevac helicopter out of Cold Bay has been dispatched to battle gale-force winds and blizzard conditions to rescue a 63-year-old King Cove woman desperately in need of medical help.
The villagers want the gravel track – which would link with roads already built in the refuge – so residents safely can reach medical help. Since 1981, more than a dozen people have died in evacuations from King Cove or awaiting better weather. It also should be noted the road would be used only for emergencies.
Izembek hosts millions of migratory birds each year, and Jewell said somebody had to stand up for the them – although they are there only a few months out of the year and hunting is allowed in the refuge.
It makes you wonder about federal overreach and trust responsibility. Apparently all that goes out the window if environmentalists scream loud enough.
It is time Alaska screamed back.
SOURCE: Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee