Opinion

Editorial: Secretary Jewell makes bad call on Native village road





Newspaper criticizes Interior Secretary Sally Jewell for rejecting a road that would benefit an Alaska Native village:
It’s obvious the road is needed for life and safety reasons and that it has been needed for decades. Since December, when Secretary Jewell rejected the land exchange, the Coast Guard has made five medical flights to King Cove in sometimes perilous conditions to transport patients 600 miles to Anchorage for medical attention.

Those same patients could have taken commercial aircraft to Anchorage from the all-weather airport at Cold Bay had the 11-mile, one-lane gravel road connecting the two communities existed. And the lives of Coast Guard personnel would not have been put at risk heading into and out of King Cove, the site of several aviation accidents over the years. Some patients died in those crashes; others died because they couldn’t get medical attention in time.

And what about that rejected land exchange, which was already authorized under 2009 legislation signed into law by President Obama but needing the Interior secretary’s approval? Would it be so bad for the federal government? Not at all.

The federal government would receive a total of 56,000 acres from the state of Alaska and the King Cove Native Corp., with about 43,000 acres of that going into wilderness status. The federal government would give up just 206 acres within the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge for construction of the road.

Secretary Jewell, in rejecting the land exchange on the recommendation of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service over a perceived threat to birds in the Izembek refuge, offered to pursue alternatives but, according to Alaska officials, has offered nothing of substance.

Get the Story:
Editorial: The interior secretary’s bad judgment: Alaska’s leaders are correct to fight hard against King Cove road decision (The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner 4/6)

Another Opinion:
Alex DeMarban: Myths muddle effort to carve a road through Alaska refuge (The Alaska Dispatch 4/6)

Related Stories:
Alaska Native leaders in DC to make case for controversial road (03/25)
Lisa Murkowski: Road to nowhere a lifesaver for Native village (3/19)
Opinion: Secretary Jewell ignores trust obligations to village (3/17)
Lisa Murkowski: DOI decision leaves Alaska Native village at risk (2/26)
Secretary Jewell axes road project for Alaska Native village (1/3)