Washington, D.C. -- Alaskan Congressman Don Young today criticized the extreme hypocrisy of the Obama Administration and its environmentalist allies following their support and silence, respectively, on H.R. 4402, a bill that would establish a surface danger zone over the Guam National Wildlife Refuge in order to establish a live-fire training range complex.
"For years, a united Alaskan effort has led the charge in establishing an 11 mile, one-lane gravel road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, in order to provide a lifesaving link from King Cove to Cold Bay," said Congressman Don Young. "We all know the opposition we've faced, particularly the Department of Interior's decision to deny road access through the refuge due to the "potential' threats it may have on wildlife. Meanwhile, this Administration supports and its environmentalist allies stand silent on legislation that would close off a gigantic swath of the Guam National Wildlife Refuge in order to accommodate a live-fire range. They apparently have nothing to say about this refuge's future, which was established to protect and recover numerous endangered species of birds, bats, and sea turtles, but continue to stand as a major roadblock and elevate the impacts for the people of King Cove. If this isn't the height of hypocrisy, I don't know what is."
While Congressman Young is supportive of H.R. 4402, legislation to expand Marine Corp and Navy operations in Guam for the relocation of 5,000 Marines from Okinawa to Guam, he is quick to point out the double standards being applied to the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge.
Every year, 92,000 people visit the Guam National Wildlife Refuge for the purposes of hiking, fishing, accessing public beaches, and using the visitor center and other facilities. Should H.R. 4402 become law, these visitors will have limited to no access to a previously open area of land due to the establishment of a surface danger zone; the visitor center and facilities will be moved or demolished and rebuilt at an estimated cost of over $10 million. Meanwhile, the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge sees only 5,000 visitors, and the life-saving road in question would be built without a dime of federal money. No public access would be curtailed, nor would Izembek's wildlife come into contact with exploding bombs or bullets as a result of this road.
During a House Natural Resources Committee hearing on H.R. 4402, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service testified that this area holds the last remaining populations of a particular bat species and the last remaining habitat for certain species of birds, but they seem to be indifferent on the issue of turning this Refuge into a live-fire range. Additionally, the National Wildlife Refuge Association, which fights the King Cove road tooth-and-nail and even maintains an entire webpage devoted to fighting the road, turned down an invitation by the committee to testify.
With crickets chirping, H.R. 4402 unanimously passed the House Natural Resources Committee today, and is expected to pass the House later this week as part of H.R. 4435, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015.