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.