Parnell administration files notice of intent to sue over King Cove to Cold Bay road

The State of Alaska informed the federal government that it intends to sue over access to a potentially life-saving road between King Cove and Cold Bay, villages in Alaska’s Aleutian Chain. Until now, the road has been a federal, rather than state issue.

In December, the Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell denied the road, 11 miles of which would cut through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. All three members of Alaska’s congressional delegation cried foul. Sen. Lisa Murkowski has been fighting the most diligently to allow residents to build the road. Environmentalists have been pushing back.

Cold Bay has an all-weather airport. King Cove does not. When residents need to be evacuated to Anchorage or Outside for medical care, the Coast Guard sends a helicopter, which is often dangerous and costly. Already this year there have been five such evacuations. According to Murkowski’s office, each Coast Guard transport costs as much as $210,000.

Read background here and here. Here’s the full press release from the governor’s office:

Governor Sean Parnell today announced that the State of Alaska has filed a notice of intent to sue the federal government over access through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, based on a historic right of way. A strong advocate for the life-saving road between King Cove and Cold Bay, the governor has called the Department of the Interior’s failure to approve a road that would provide emergency medical access for residents of King Cove “unconscionable.”

“In just the last several weeks, serious health-related evacuations have shown just how critical a road for medical evacuations is for residents,” Governor Parnell said. “The State continues to explore all potential avenues to help the people of King Cove. The notice of intent to sue relates to one option the State is evaluating, but the fastest and surest way to provide emergency medical access for King Cove residents is for Secretary Jewell to reconsider her decision placing the possible temporary disturbance of birds above the health and safety of Alaskans. The State will pursue all options to help Alaska residents.”

The notice is required to be submitted at least 180 days prior to the State being allowed to bring suit against the federal government asserting a right of way based on historic use under Revised Statute 2477, a section of the Mining Act of 1866. A copy of the notice is available at:

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5 thoughts on “Parnell administration files notice of intent to sue over King Cove to Cold Bay road

  1. Mae

    Wealthy trophy hunters all over the world do not want that road.
    Ever been to Cold Bay? It seems to always be full of designer hunting gear, men who have packed too many rifles with them and cigar smoke.
    I’m just happy to not have to run into that volunteer bible beater senior citizen at the front desk of the Fish and Wildlife Service office anymore. Gosh it was like she had the trophy hunters on speed dial or two way walkie talkie.

    Maybe I’m wrong here but didn’t Frank the Bank, while Gov., do the same thing? Or maybe he did some make work for the AG office and had them research it and decided to not sue.

    Cold Bay has the third largest airport in Alaska. It isn’t paved, perhaps it is chip sealed or something. When the wind blows, there is cause for concern about rocks blowing into airplane engines.

    Building the road is a federal issue, for sure. However till November, it will be a state governor race issue. Parnell is no different than Frank the Bank.

  2. Rae

    I couldn’t agree more with George’s comments.
    1. I’m glad that Governor Parnell is engaging and exerting state rights, and
    2. I’m equally disgusted that Begich has been absent on this debate. Guess the Sierra Club is more important than the resoidents of King Cove.

  3. George W.

    Good for the Governor. This federal administration cares more about birds and salamanders than it does for people. Secretary Jewell is being irrespopnsible and is a sell-out to the environmentalists. Surely, something could be worked out that would allow public safety officers to use the road for emergency health transportation services. I am pleased that Governor Parnell has joined Senator Murkowski and Congressman Young in this fight.
    I’ve noticed that Senator Begich has been relatively quiet on this one. He likes to tell us that he’s fighting for Alaska.but if you’re paying attention, that’s just a lot of cheap talk. Like they say, he supports Obama 97% of the timem my vantage point, Obama is bad for Alaska about 97% of the time
    I also think it is time to retor Begich and all is phoney talk about fighting for Alaska.

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