Murkowski, Jewell joust over King Cove road

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell visits King Cove in 2013. (Photo by Annie Feidt, APRN - Anchorage)
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell visits King Cove in 2013. (Photo by Annie Feidt/APRN – Anchorage)

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U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski chairs the Senate’s Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

Tuesday, she used that platform to grill Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on a number of issues in – or

not in – the president’s budget, including the King Cove road.

“And the fact that today is 26 months to the day that you have rejected this 10-mile, one lane, gravel, non-commercial use road,” she said.

Murkowski asked Secretary Jewell about a recent Army Corps of Engineers study of other transportation options from King Cove to the all-weather airport at Cold Bay.

Murkowski said the alternatives, like ships, helicopters, or a new airport, have been studied before and deemed impractical or far more expensive than a road through a small part of the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge.

Murkowski asked if Jewell intended to live up to her promise to find a solution.

Murkowski: “Or is this a situation where you basically just run the clock and you leave the people of King Cove hanging?”
Jewell: “Senator, I have no intention of leaving the people of King Cove hanging and I would be delighted to work with you on a marine-based solution that was identified in the Army Corps. report. As you and I have talked, I know it is unlikely we’re going to agree on this point, I do not believe it is appropriate to run a road through this very sensitive wilderness are and wildlife refuge.”

Jewell caught an earful on a range of items in the final Obama budget, including the president’s proposed $10-per-barrel oil tax.

Murkowski and Jewell get to repeat the confrontation again shortly, when Jewell defends the budget before the Subcommittee on Interior Appropriations, which Murkowski also chairs.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her at Read more about Liz here.

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