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.