On June 24, 2017, Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I) signed a bill designating the second Monday in October as Indigenous People's Day. Photo: AkGovBillWalker
Environment | National | Politics

Life-saving road for Native village inches forward in Alaska and in D.C.

A life-saving road that will connect an Alaska Native village to a nearby airport is seeing some progress.

On Tuesday, the House Committee on Natural Resources approved H.R. 218, the King Cove Road Land Exchange Act, by a vote of 23 to 14. The bill authorizes the construction of a road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in order to make it easier for residents of King Cove, an Aleut village, to get to the airport.

“Nineteen people have died because they didn’t have this road,” Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), the sponsor of the bill, said a markup session on H.R.218, The Washington Times reported.

The vote came after the Department of the Interior took its own step for the road. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages Izembek, issued a permit to the state of Alaska to being surveying activities.

"For far too long, King Cove residents suffering from medical emergencies have had to brave harsh elements just to get health care. They travel by boat or helicopter—often in inclement weather—to access the Cold Bay airport in order to be medevaced out," Gov. Bill Walker (I) said in a press release on Monday. "Our fellow Alaskans deserve better than that."

The road is controversial because environmental groups don't want to see Izembek disturbed. Those concerns led the Obama administration to reject the road.

Read More on the Story:
Bill advancing Alaska’s long-awaited King Cove road clears House committee (The Washington Times 6/27)
Road to King Cove approved for survey by Department of Interior (KTUU 6/26)
Trump’s Interior secretary takes first baby step on King Cove road (Alaska Public Media 6/26)
Interior Department OKs survey for Alaska wilderness road (AP 6/26)

House Committee on Natural Resources Notices:
Full Committee Markup (June 22, 2017)
Full Committee Markup (June 27, 2017)

Related Stories:
House panel takes up bill to approve road for Alaska Native village (April 4, 2017)
Alaska Native village still seeking approval for 'life-saving road' (January 11, 2017)