From the Alaska Democratic Party’s official newsletter, the official policy of Democrats in Alaska is to oppose the King Cove Road because Republicans favor it, and Republicans only favor it only for the purpose of using it as a model for opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge’s coastal plain for oil development. We quote the newsletter:
“The King Cove Road which would run through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge has been a flashpoint between conservatives and progressives with the unlikely small village of King Cove caught in the middle of the fight. The battle for the road is to create easier access for this small isolated community to a better airport in case of medical emergencies, conservatives argue.
“You would not be wrong to be cynical about this. Why should conservatives suddenly care about a Native village in the remotest part of the state? And why should they suddenly care about accessibility to health care, for that matter? Does it sound out of character, perhaps? Wouldn’t you expect to hear something like, “They should just move to Anchorage?” or “They just want free stuff!” or “Living there is a choice.”
“You’re about to have an aha moment.
“…the move will surely serve as a model for future challenges to federal wilderness protection, America’s highest standard of public land conservation. The vast majority of Izembek has been designated as a wilderness area for decades.”
“There’s a reason they don’t refer to it as the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge road, just like they don’t call it the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Nobody wants to mess up a refuge, but “King Cove Road” and “ANWR” sound perfectly construction-worthy.
“This is not to say that the people of King Cove don’t have a genuine interest in being able to more easily access medical care, but let’s not go thinking that empathy and healthcare access for a small Native community is the real motivator for Republicans here. It’s alllll about resource extraction and creating precedent for blasting through any protected wilderness area they want.”
The coastal plain of ANWR, called Section 1002, has long been designated for oil and gas development in 1.5 million acres of the over 19.6 million acres of ANWR. It is the only area that is subject to energy development and has an estimated 4.3 to 11.8 billion barrels of recoverable oil.