Monday, July 28, 2014

Secretary Jewell Denies Telling Alaskans to 'Get Over It'

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Friday that residents of an isolated Aleutian community should "get over" their pursuit of a road that would provide access to lifesaving healthcare, according to a state lawmaker. On Friday, House Majority Leader Lance Pruitt said Jewell was answering questions from state lawmakers gathered in Washington for a National Council of State Legislatures event when she commented that Alaskans should just "get over it." Pruitt, an Anchorage Republican, said that Jewell spoke of "a lot of big issues in Alaska, such as (National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska) and offshore drilling," he said. "She wishes Alaskans would just get over this, she implied that this issue was very small." A Saturday statement from the Interior Department, however, disputes the claim and calls Pruitt "factually wrong." In response to a question from Pruitt, the statement notes Jewell's "desire to continue to work with the Alaska's elected officials on the vast range of issues that are important to the state." "She did not and would not tell anyone to 'get over it,'" a spokesperson wrote in the statement. At stake is an 11-mile gravel road that would cut through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge to connect King Cove and Cold Bay, something the federal government formally blocked in a 2013 decision...more

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