Friday, July 18, 2014

A 10-mile feud between Lisa Murkowski and Interior's Sally Jewell

Jewell's denial of a proposed land swap that would have allowed construction of a 10-mile road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge for emergency medical evacuations for the isolated community of King Cove incensed the Alaska Republican. Murkowski says Jewell chose to save the lives of birds -- the refuge is home to several species of waterfowl and shorebirds -- over the lives of people, noting that 19 have died since 1980 either in plane crashes or because they couldn't get medical treatment in time. It's a row that Murkowski swears won't affect how she deals with Jewell. But unless the ice melts, the relationship will be closely watched if Republicans capture the Senate in November. That's because Jewell would have to plead her agency's cases to Murkowski, who would lead the Energy and Natural Resources Committee as well as the Appropriations Committee's interior and environment panel. The King Cove issue touches on a sensitive topic for Alaskans, Murkowski said. It puts a spotlight on how much land the federal government controls in Alaska -- 62 percent, according to a February 2012 report by the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service. "I have acknowledged to her and she has recognized that the secretary of the Interior is technically the landlord for us here in Alaska, so much of our land is being held by the federal government," Murkowski said...more

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