Breaking: Ninth Circuit rules in favor of King Cove Road

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The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday reversed a decision by a federal judge who had rejected a deal made during the Trump Administration that would allow a road to King Cove from the Cold Bay Airport.

The road would need to traverse a small portion of the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, and is designed as a one-lane gravel road to allow King Cove residents limited access to an airport that would allow life-saving medical transportation. Several environmental groups have sued to stop the road from being built.

The Ninth Circuit held that the former Secretary of Interior’s interpretation of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act’s purposes was correct. Congress gave the Secretary discretion balance the needs of humans and the environment.

The court held that Secretary David Bernhardt, who has since been replaced by Secretary Deb Haaland, exercised that discretion appropriately when he found that, without a road, the human health needs of the people of King Cove were disadvantaged.

The court also noted that Sedwick’s reading of ANILCA was contrary to the Supreme Court’s ruling in Sturgeon v. Frost, and concluded that the Bernhardt had properly considered economic and social needs of Alaskans against the other statutory purposes in weighing the land-exchange agreement. In the Sturgeon ruling, the Supreme Court sided with hunter John Sturgeon in his claim that navigable waters of Alaska are state-controlled, not federally controlled.

The Biden Administration joined with Native corporations and the State of Alaska in seeking the reversal of the district court’s ruling.

16 COMMENTS

  1. This is hilarious. Three judges at the Ninth Circuit must have momentarily forgotten about the preferred outcome. Someone will petition for a re-hearing en banc. I doubt if the California majority on the entire Ninth Circuit will let this stand.

  2. This is so ridiculous! Human life is precious. Build the road fast before another environmental group will spend more money stopping it than helping people get access to health care.

  3. Was this some kind of Obiden/Pelosi arm-twisting tit-for-tat to get a timely win for Lisa Murkowski, up for reelection this year, and incidentally the (mostly Native) people of King Cove a year almost to the day since the Biden DOJ supported Trump’s 2018 appeal to get this road permitted through Izembek National Wildlife Refuge? The Trump appeal dates back to when Trump and Lisa were friends, before she repeatedly betrayed his efforts to forward the conservative agenda against the radical Democrat ecoterrorist environmental groups. See ‘https://www.politico.com/news/2021/03/19/lisa-murkowski-bernhardt-izembek-refuge-477196.
    Our memories are short, but not that short. It will be interesting to see if the safety of the King Cove community benefits as much by the development of this road as long-term interests in the Bristol Bay mining development that would also use the road. ‘https://indiancountrytoday.com/news/the-wrap-us-is-rethinking-pebble-mine-again

    • Nice try, but just like the false claim that killed the Ketchikan “bridge to nowhere,” it actually goes across a swamp, or water in the case of Ketchikan, to an airport. And that’s SOMEWHERE, and important to the community. But don’t mind the facts when you can appeal to emotions to kill something.

  4. Progressives should applaud progress? Or not??

    I’ve spent time in this area, and this makes complete sense. Connecting communities.

    Fed could have constructed this road a million times with the money we send to third world countries.

    Ninth Circuit finally got one right, wow.

  5. The King Cove Road construction money has been spent several times over with all the complete idiocy that has occurred arguing about what a community needs by people that have zero stake in the outcome.

  6. The 9th Circus? For reals? Knock me over with a sledgehammer.
    So, was this a panel or a full court?

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