Continuing to take issue with the Department of the Interior's misguided decision to deny a life-saving road from King Cove to Cold Bay's all weather airport, U.S. Senator Mark Begich today stood side by side with residents of King Cove to tell Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to loosen the reins and approve the road. Begich facilitated an agreement where the King Cove community will provide Interior additional information about their needs and Secretary Jewell promised a prompt decision to the communities formal request for her reconsideration of the land exchange.
A delegation of King Cove local officials, including the mayor and tribal leaders, met with Begich and Jewell in a meeting Begich convened today in his Senate office.
"Today Secretary Jewell listened to King Cove residents' harrowing stories of braving treacherous weather to deliver babies and receive urgent medical care, as well as other near-death experiences members of this community have endured too many times," said Begich. "This is an issue of survival. By approving this road, Secretary Jewell will provide access to an all-weather airport which will allow King Cove residents to receive the urgent medical care that they need. This road would save lives and that should be enough of a reason to approve it."
In the meeting facilitated by Begich and requested by the City of King Cove, Belkofski Tribal Council and the Aleutians East Borough, residents of King Cove kept up the pressure on Jewell regarding the necessity of the road.
Begich talks with Jewell and King Cove residents in his Senate office.
Begich has repeatedly called the anti-road decision an example of how Washington just doesn't get Alaska. Following the decision, Begich introduced legislation mandating an exchange of lands proposed by the State of Alaska and local Native corporations in order for the state to receive title to a road corridor through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge.
Begich has been fighting for the road since he came to the Senate and has continually pressed Sec. Jewell to reverse her damaging decision on the road. Begich has also called on President Obama to address the issue.