Friday, April 14, 2017

Interior Department will take new look at Alaska’s King Cove road project shelved under Obama

President Trump’s Interior Department plans a fresh look at shelved plans to build a single-lane gravel road to King Cove, Alaska, breathing new life into a decades-long debate that has pitted the isolated community seeking a link to the outside world against environmentalists who say the project would wreak havoc on a federal wildlife refuge. The proposed road, which would connect King Cove to an airport in nearby Cold Bay, was rejected in 2013 by Obama administration Interior Secretary Sally Jewell. She said concerns about damage to the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge — through which the road would run — outweighed arguments in favor of the project and that alternatives to the road could be found. Critics of Ms. Jewell’s decision, led by Sen. Lisa Murkowski, an Alaska Republican who has championed the road for years, argue that it is a matter of life and death for the fewer than 1,000 residents of King Cove. With no access to the community by road, residents must be flown via medevac in the event of a medical emergency. Alaskan officials say at least 19 people have died over the past three decades either waiting in King Cove for medical attention or in medevac crashes as they attempted to reach the Cold Bay airport. A simple road, Ms. Murkowski and others argue, would save lives...more

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