Two Years Later, Still No Help for King Cove

Obama Administration Has Failed to Act Despite 38 More Medevacs

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, today issued the following statement to mark the two-year anniversary of the Obama administration’s heartless rejection of a short, life-saving road for the isolated village of King Cove, Alaska.  

“I will never understand how the administration made its initial decision, or why it has continued to fail the people of King Cove ever since. Instead of protecting human lives, the administration has only managed to waste scarce resources on a shallow study of inferior alternatives‎.

“King Cove has endured at least 38 more medevacs over the past two years, including 14 that required the men and women of the Coast Guard to risk their own lives in terrible conditions. The worst part is, if King Cove were a foreign village claiming it was threatened by climate change, the administration would be scrambling to send millions of taxpayer dollars its way.

“It has been two years to date since I got the call from Secretary Jewell rejecting this life-saving road and the good people of this isolated community deserve better. And I will keep fighting, every day, to protect their health and safety. This is a matter of life and death that has led to far too much needless suffering. I will never give up, and I will work harder than ever in 2016 to finally secure a life-saving road for King Cove.”

In 2009, Murkowski won congressional and presidential approval of a nearly 300:1 land exchange needed to facilitate a narrow, gravel, non-commercial, 10-mile-long road through a small sliver of the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. The road would provide emergency medical transportation out of King Cove during frequently extreme weather conditions by linking the village to the all-weather runway in nearby Cold Bay.

The Department of the Interior formally denied the life-saving road on December 23, 2013. The decision has left local residents fearful that they will be unable to reach proper medical care in emergency circumstances. In the absence of a road, some patients needing medevac have been forced to wait hours or even overnight until help could safely arrive to transport them.    

More information about King Cove’s need for a life-saving road is available on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee’s website.