July 23, 2014
Sen. Murkowski Calls Out Jewell’s Failure to Act, Urges Return Visit to Alaska Village
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today sent a letter to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell criticizing her ongoing failure to protect the health and safety of the people of King Cove, Alaska.
Murkowski’s latest letter comes exactly seven months after Jewell rejected a life-saving road to provide the isolated community with emergency medical access to the all-weather airport in neighboring Cold Bay.
“As you are likely aware, the months since your decision have held no small amount of disappointment, frustration, and anguish for those who live in King Cove,” Murkowski wrote to Jewell. “Throughout that time, both local leaders and Alaska’s elected officials have repeatedly sought to convince you to reassess your position and to fulfill your promises to this remote community. Unfortunately, the record shows that you have not sought to resolve the very real risks residents face, and instead have done little to nothing to actually help them.”
In her letter, Murkowski outlined a lengthy series of correspondence, inquiries, and questions from King Cove and other Alaska officials that Jewell has received. Despite promising to help the community, Jewell has ignored – and failed to respond – to any of those efforts.
“This accumulating record is deeply disappointing, to say the least,” Murkowski said. “I believe you have had more than sufficient time to answer the letters and inquiries you have received, both from me and from others. You have been presented with evidence that should compel you to reopen and reevaluate the Record of Decision, yet you have not. You have also had more than enough time to identify, evaluate, and propose alternative solutions, but have not. Instead, you have made no discernible effort to resolve this life-and-death threat.”
In light of Jewell’s apparent apathy, Murkowski included several requests within her latest letter: She asked Jewell to prioritize full responses to all correspondence received about King Cove, for a full summary of steps the Interior Department has undertaken to facilitate reliable methods of medical transport, and to return to the village of nearly 1,000 Alaskans this year.
“A second visit is necessary so that you can explain in person why you rejected the long-sought road, and so that you can explain whether help is truly on the way,” Murkowski said.
Murkowski ended her letter by reminding Jewell that she is not about to drop her pursuit of a life-saving road – or turn her back on the people of King Cove.
“If you are unwilling to return to King Cove, I ask again that you please explain how – and when – you plan to help those who live there,” Murkowski wrote. “This is a matter of life and death for nearly 1,000 Alaskans, and I ask that you begin to treat it accordingly.”
Murkowski’s letter to Secretary Jewell is available here.
More information on what would be – and someday will be – the short, gravel, one-lane, life-saving King Cove road is available on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee website.