Tag Archives: cold bay

Interior Secretary Jewell wishes Alaskans would ‘get over’ King Cove road

Among a crowd of lawmakers from across the country at the White House on Friday, Alaska state House Majority Leader Lance Pruitt asked Interior Secretary Sally Jewell about her decision to continue to bar a potentially life-saving road through a federal wildlife refuge in Southeast Alaska.

He was shocked by her response.

“I wish that Alaskans would get over it,” Jewell said, according to Pruitt, who wrote down the quote, referring to the long-fought-for road from King Cove to Cold Bay. Pruitt said she talked about other issues that she felt were “more important” than the road, like opening up lands for oil development in Alaska’s National Petroleum Reserve, and offshore drilling in the Arctic.

“Do you know how you feel when you get punched in the gut? That’s how I felt,” Pruitt said in a phone interview on Friday. “What she basically said is that drilling is more important than saving lives.”

Other lawmakers in the room approached Pruitt after the meeting, describing Jewell’s reaction as “arrogant.” Continue reading


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:

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com


Murkowski again urges Jewell to allow for King Cove road

On the heels of a Coast Guard medical evacuation in King Cove on Friday, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski again urged Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to allow a road that would connect King Cove, the small Aleutian Island village, to Cold Bay, another small village about 22 miles away with an all-weather airport.

On Friday, 63-year-old Irene Newman had to be evacuated from King Cove to Cold Bay, where she was then transferred via life flight to the Alaska Native Medical Center in Anchorage. Newman had experienced heart failure.

Fearing the destruction of birding habitat, the Interior Department has refused to allow the road, which would cut through a slice of the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. Murkowski has made the road a major issue since the latest decision not to allow the road was issued on Dec. 23.

“Friday was just the latest example of the unnecessary risk the Interior Department is willing to submit Alaskans to in the name of protecting bird habitat,” Murkowski said. “While plenty of our smallest communities face transportation challenges, none are as close to an all-weather runway and safe access to hospital care as King Cove. To be left in harm’s way, not because of geography, but because of the callous decisions of Washington bureaucrats is unacceptable.”

The Coast Guard received the rescue call on Friday night at about 4:20 p.m. By 5:15, the Coast Guard helicopter had determined that conditions were too dangerous for a commercial flight. It was snowing and the winds were blowing up to 70 miles an hour.

Three Coasties — two pilots and an airline mechanic– made the flight to King Cove. At about 7:20, Newman was in Cold Bay, waiting to be transported to Anchorage. All told there was about a 30 minute weather delay, according to the Coast Guard.

Contact Amanda Coyne at amandamcoyne@yahoo.com