Heads and Tails: Dunbar talks politics while in uniform, King Cove Road progresses - Must Read Alaska
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Sunday, June 13, 2021
HomePoliticsHeads and Tails: Dunbar talks politics while in uniform, King Cove Road progresses

Heads and Tails: Dunbar talks politics while in uniform, King Cove Road progresses

 

FORREST DUNBAR ADVISES CONGRESS: In this picture Judicial Advocate Forrest Dunbar appears in military uniform in what appears to be a military aviation facility.

He advises his Twitter followers to “don’t let Congress do anything crazy while I’m gone.” Innocent enough, but this is a political post being made to the world from a military facility. There are rules for such things.

If on official duty as a National Guard officer, can we surmise this is the also the official position of the U.S. Army — that Congress, which he ran for three years ago, should not do anything “crazy” while National Guardsmen like him are in Mongolia? Was he serving as a JAG when he posted this?

We thank Dunbar for his service and wish him every success in Mongolia, where he will have limited access to social media due to an extreme lack of connectivity.
KING COVE ROAD MAKES STRIDES: U.S. House of Representatives approved the passage of H.R. 218, the King Cove Road Land Exchange Act. The legislation passed with bipartisan support 248 to 179. It’s legislation he worked on for 30 years.

“This is truly an issue of life or death for the residents of the isolated community of King Cove,” Congressman Don Young following passage of H.R. 218. “For over 30 years, they have fought for the approval an 11-mile, non-commercial use, gravel road to the community of Cold Bay, AK in order to access an all-weather airport during medical emergencies. Sadly, this legislation is only necessary because of the heartless actions of the previous administration, which denied previous efforts by Congress to authorize the construction of this road.  That decision, which placed the interests of environmentalists and wildlife over human life, was one of the worst government actions I’ve seen in all my years.”

In 2013, former Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell denied construction of the 11-mile road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. Since then, the community of King Cove has experienced more than 60 medivacs – including 17 by the U.S. Coast Guard – in often harsh weather conditions. The House-passage of H.R. 218 – legislation to authorize an equal value land exchange between the State of Alaska and the Department of Interior – represents the first time the House or Senate has approved such legislation since 2009.

WHAT ENVIRONMENTALISTS SAID: The legislation for the King Cove Road still has to make it through the Senate with a 60-vote threshold and the environmental lobby is out in force.

Defenders of Wildlife made an opposing statement:

“The proposed road would likely cost lives, even though other viable transportation options exist. The Izembek National Wildlife Refuge is subject to frequent violent winter storms, making travel along the proposed route extremely dangerous. Traveling the road would likely be treacherous for much of the year, and sometimes impassable, due to seasonal icing, high winds, blizzards and avalanche conditions.”

Yes, that is the environmentalists’ position: A road would be dangerous in gale force winds so a boat is much safer.

THEY AREN’T GOING QUIETLY: Joel Clement was director of the Office of Policy Analysis at the U.S. Interior Department until Secretary of State Ryan Zinke moved him to another office.

[Read: Shakeup at Interior includes Arctic, BIA]

Now, Clement is bitterly complaining to the readers of the Washington Post, whose motto is “Democracy Dies in Darkness.”

Joel Clement

His new job is less glamorous than his old job of saving the world, and Alaska in particular, from a changing climate. He is now at the Office of Natural Resources Revenue, where he collects royalty checks from resource companies. It’s galling.

And he’s really, really mad.

“I am not a member of the deep state. I am not big government. I am a scientist, a policy expert, a civil servant and a worried citizen. Reluctantly, as of today, I am also a whistleblower on an administration that chooses silence over science.

“Nearly seven years ago, I came to work for the Interior Department, where, among other things, I’ve helped endangered communities in Alaska prepare for and adapt to a changing climate. But on June 15, I was one of about 50 senior department employees who received letters informing us of involuntary reassignments. Citing a need to ‘improve talent development, mission delivery and collaboration,’ the letter informed me that I was reassigned to an unrelated job in the accounting office that collects royalty checks from fossil fuel companies.”

Clement’s message, summarized: “The nerve of the Trump Administration to take a climate change expert like me and ask me to handle the money coming to the federal government from fossil fuel.”

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Suzanne Downing had careers in business and journalism before serving as the Director of Faith and Community-based Initiatives for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and returning to Alaska to serve as speechwriter for Gov. Sean Parnell. Born on the Oregon coast, she moved to Alaska in 1969.

Latest comments

  • Only government would put up with and “reassign” this Joel Clement. The private sector would tell him, “You better be a passenger in the next truck that leaves the landing.” (More colorful language no longer recalled.)

    • Exactly right, Mr. Boutin!

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