Alaskan Congressman Don Young today released the following statement in response to the Secretary of Interior's and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's decision to put the health and well-being of Alaskans aside by choosing to prohibit limited road access through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge:
"Today's decision is a betrayal of the residents of King Cove, and further demonstrates how beholden this Administration is to environmental extremists. This Administration's choice will continue to prevent the community of King Cove from having reliable access to the only all weather airport in the region; often their only lifeline to safe and reliable access to medical facilities.
"How many King Cove residents must perish due to a lack of immediate medical attention for the Department of the Interior to allow this land exchange? At a minimum, the Secretary of the Interior should look these Alaskans in the eye and explain why some seaweed and ducks trump their access to reliable life-saving transport. To date, a meeting with representatives of King Cove has never been granted by the Secretary.
"These Alaskans simply want limited road access to an all-weather airport, something many in Alaska and nearly all Americans in the Lower 48 take for granted. Simply put, today's decision is shameful, and I am horrified that the federal government would turn its back on the health and safety of its residents.
"In 2009, Congress passed the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge Land Exchange Act, and although this is the final EIS, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar will have the final say. This will likely be one of his final actions as Secretary, and I hope he gives the tremendous impact of this issue thoughtful reflection."