Breaking: Sec. Deb Haaland, in retribution, revokes land swap for life-saving road from King Cove to Cold Bay airport

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Interior Secretary Deb Haaland late Tuesday revoked a land swap approved by the Trump Administration that would have allowed for a one-lane gravel road to be built through Alaska’s Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, so that the people of King Cove could reach the Cold Bay Airport.

The land exchange was between the Interior Department and the King Cove Corporation, and had been authorized by former Secretary David Bernhardt in 2019.

Haaland’s environmentalist staff decided that land exchange is not consistent with her goals for government.

“This action applies to the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska that was created by President Carter’s landmark Alaska National Interest Conservation Act (ANILCA) of 1980, which conserved more than 100 million acres of federal land in Alaska. As part of President Biden’s commitment to upholding America’s conservation laws, the Department intends to initiate an environmental analysis that will include robust nation-to-nation consultation and consider, among other things, the 2013 land exchange considered by Secretary Sally Jewell and a subsistence evaluation under Section 810 of ANILCA,” Haaland’s statement said.

The announcement came one day after Haaland had been forced by President Joe Biden to partially approve an oil development called Willow in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, something Haaland had vehemently opposed. Her surprise ruling on King Cove appears to be a quid-pro-quo to signal to Alaska her displeasure, and to signal to environmentalists that she is still one of them.

“This decision is the latest act in Secretary Haaland’s disingenuous playbook: Tell Alaskans, particularly Alaska Native people, that you support something, like Native veteran allotments or the King Cove Road, then purposefully delay it for years so it can never actually happen,” said Sen. Dan Sullivan.

“While Secretary Haaland claims that she wants to consider alternative land exchanges, that will push the entire process back to square one and place the lives of King Cove residents at risk today,” said Gov. Mike Dunleavy. “The fact is her decision to halt the land swap increases the likelihood that a resident in King Cove won’t be able to receive life-saving medical treatment in time due to bad weather at the villages airstrip. The 11-mile road from King Cove to Cold Bay would connect residents in King Cove to an all-weather airport in Cold Bay and would save lives. It makes zero sense that Secretary Haaland would want to deprive Alaskans of the life-saving services the road would provide access to.”

Currently, when a resident in King Cove needs a medical evacuation, emergency services are dependent on good weather at the village’s airstrip. The community of Cold Bay has an all-weather airport that provides significantly greater access to emergency services.

“The debate around approving the construction of a road to connect the people of King Cove to life-saving resources has created a false choice, seeded over many years, between valuing conservation and wildlife or upholding our commitments to Indigenous communities. I reject that binary choice. I am a lifelong conservationist, and I believe deeply in the need to protect our lands and waters and honor our obligations to Tribal Nations. Respecting Tribal sovereignty means ensuring that we are listening – really listening – to Tribal communities. I have instructed my team to immediately launch a process to review previous proposals for a land exchange, rooted in a commitment to engagement in meaningful nation-to-nation consultation with Tribes, to protecting the national wildlife refuge system, and to upholding the integrity of ANILCA’s subsistence and conservation purposes,” Haaland said in her statement.

In reality, the Democrats believe that the King Cove Road would create precedent that would lead to oil and gas development on the North Slope. Democrats believe that the road is favored by Republicans because it could be used as a model for opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas development.

Meanwhile, 950 residents of King Cove have been trying to build an emergency road to get to life-saving help for 40 years.

66 COMMENTS

  1. How much would it cost and who would pay for winter maintenance on this all weather road? Living in the Bush ha a cost including access to emergency medial services.

    • It’s their HOME Frank. They didn’t move there.
      Are you saying our Native people have to leave there land & move to the road system to get access to modern life saving medical care?

      • Senator Sullivan stated that Native folks have lived in the area for thousands of years, plenty of opportunity to build a road before the National Wildlife Refuge was created. I can’t walk outside my house and hunt, I can’t run my 4 wheeler in town, there are drawbacks to living in town for better access to medical services. What is the life/ccle cost of the road and who will pay for it?

      • Well, what about the scores of other villages off the road system? Are we going to build roads to all of those communities? Of course not. Why is King Cove any different? Give me a break. There are great reasons to live in the bush, easy access to modern healthcare and practically any other modern convenience isn’t one of them.

    • Frank as usual you are missing the point. This isn’t whether or not to build a road, this is the interior secretary out of spite breaking a contract the US government made with its citizens.
      That is unacceptable, as it leaves ANY future dealings with any governmental entity in doubt and an uncertainty. Who in their right mind would do business with them again?
      And Frank, why is it okay NOT to build a road in this state?? Considering that every phone booth in the lower 48 has a road to it, that is maintained by the state or city, why are we as a state not entitled to put in more roads to connect our residents, improve commerce and give opportunity to all??? WHERE Frank is the EQUITY in that??

  2. An old story. One native screws another to impress liberal white people.

    Once again the specter of Jimmy Carter screws Alaskans. Democrats don’t give a damn about poor or minorities except when they vote.

    I know it’s against federal law, but: I genuinely wonder how far the left would push it if we built the road anyway. Are they willing to go to the mattresses over an subarctic island?

    • I’ve been saying this for years. Alaska should do what Alaska thinks is best and the hell with the Lower 48. We also ought to get the vote we were entitled to instead of the false “state: yes or no” vote we got. If we do, hopefully we pick the smart move and either become a commonwealth or a full separate nation and then we can can really move North to the Future.

  3. Deb has issued in excess of 6000 permits for oil drilling and mining in New Mexico. She is a complete cheat and thief. She hates Alaska and Alaskans.

  4. What I would like to see is all the Native corporations and oil patch firms that are right now patting themselves on the back over the Willow outcome have a genuine discussion about who spoke up and who did not speak up when the Haaland appointment was in play. I would like to see AOGA ask AFN, ASRC, Doyon and so many others where they were when Alaskans were speaking up to oppose Haaland. Where were you, exactly?

    Either we are all united on economic issues or we’re not. Next year is a big political year, one of extreme importance to all Alaskans. Can we count on everyone or not?

  5. ““This decision is the latest act in Secretary Haaland’s disingenuous playbook: Tell Alaskans, particularly Alaska Native people, that you support something, like Native veteran allotments or the King Cove Road, then purposefully delay it for years so it can never actually happen,” said Sen. Dan Sullivan.” So, uh, WHY’D YA VOTE FOR HER CONFIRMATION? DID YOU HAVE A ‘DISINGENUOUS PLAYBOOK?

    • Murkowski quote missing, hmmm wonder why? The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee voted to advance Congresswoman Debra Haaland’s nomination as interior secretary to a full Senate vote. The committee passed the nomination 11-9, with two Republican senators voting in favor of Haaland, including Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Without Lisa’s vote, it would have been a tie vote. Lisa: “…said she would back Haaland “despite some very real misgivings.”

      “If you’re listening, know that I intend to work with you because I want you to be successful. And quite honestly, we need you to be successful,” Murkowski said.”

      Guess those misgivings have come to roost. Is anyone surprised?

    • Anytime Sen. Dan wants to grandstand about how bad Haaland is, he should first begin by confessing and repenting for having voted to confirm her in the first place.

      • “Haaland was confirmed as the first Native American to head the agency, a vote in Senate that won approval from both of Alaska’s senators, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan”-mrak. Symbolism over substance. They’re stealing your kids future, wake up.

  6. She is a incompetent fool. She screwed the native Vietnam veterans over. Now she is going to screw the people of King Cove. I wish our governor was more aggressive.

  7. I would hope Gov. Dunleavy would put out a bid for an asphalt crew to put a new topping on the EXISTING
    road thru Izembek that was built during WW II. It could be done this summer. It’s our State land. Time to
    tell the Feds to go pound sand.

      • To get them safe and affordable access to year round evac sites.

        As stated in the article. Clearly and in English.

        Aren’t natives who are also fellow citizens allowed the same perks as white people?

        • They don’t want the same perks as white people. Have you not read the news in the last ten years? They want to decolonize. They don’t want anything to do with us. We are evil. Oh wait they want a road to an airport and they want flights and healthcare but beyond that nope they want to decolonize!!

        • So safe and year round evac sites aren’t colonization? I was unaware natives had airports and planes, helicopters, roads….

        • I’m sorry avenger I didn’t know that before colonization that natives had safe and affordable evac sites.

  8. How about we just build the road and dare her to come up and stop us? Make sure to give the contract to one of the Native Corporations so they can scream racism if she does. Win-win.

      • Agreed. But it’s an interesting question.

        If (not calling for it) we ignored the fed and built anyway, I wonder what steps the fed would be willing to take to stop it.

        Is this posturing by Deb, or is this a hill she’d die on? I’m genuinely curious.

        • Where will the money come from MA to build the road?, who will pay for winter snow clearing and maintaining all season access? This has always been about State vs Federal control, King Cove residents are the pawns.

      • We shouldn’t care about the feds and courts. They are all crooked anyway. The state needs to show the rest how to tell the feds get out of our business. These lawsuits just make lawyers money. These eco groups need to be sued for interference in state revenue.

      • Legally hippies & liberals are not supposed to camp ANYWHERE they want, but they do.
        Legally we’re not supposed to build this road, but maybe we should.
        Let the Federal gestapo come out & stop this tiny road that will save lives because we are more worried about ducks then Native people.
        It will be a great ‘look’ for the Feds & expose the Democrats eco agenda for what it truly is.
        Absurd.

        • Who is We to pay for building and maintaining a road? Do you want it coming out of your PF dividend? Has King Cove set up an escrow account with $$$$ to build a road? How much will the road cost to build and maintain. Who is the We to pay for that?

          • Your negative waves sounds like you give up and are just another sheep. This attitude do not create this country a can do attitude did.

          • That’s good Greg, that’s what we want.
            National attention to environmental extremism in AK; where the Feds support a ducks life over life saving care for Native Americans.
            Bring it on.

      • We are not a nation of laws but rather a nation of will. Been pretty obvious lately.
        Build the road and create a media stink when they try to stop it. Bad politically for them.

      • Who cares how it works. Make it right for Alaska and screw the feds. We need a line drawn in the sand. This administration has locked this whole state down with rule, after rule, after rule.

  9. Stop your whining, Sullivan, you voted to approve this Communist.
    It’s too late to try and feign outrage at exactly what we all knew she would do if appointed.

  10. Just remember, Mary Peltola was ecstatic over this radical Native woman in an interview with the Anchorage Daily News when it announced the appointment.

  11. Sullivan is a clown. He voted to confirm this eco-terrorist and now he wants to criticize her? Get bent.

  12. Ironic… the government gave permission, and the 1st Native American ‘Indian giver’ cabinet Secretary took it back.

  13. We must hold Lisa Murkowski personally responsible for this Haaland craziness, and also for her support for the ‘election’ of the corrupt and imbecilic Biden over the blowhard but otherwise pro-Alaska Trump. I turn my back on both Murkowski and Biden, two of the sorriest characters in contemporary U.S. politics.

  14. Is anyone surprised by this tit for tat BS?
    Just remember that win, lose or draw that the lawyers bill by the hour and it’s likely they could care less about the final decision! This type of road blocking is an industry created by greed as opposed to common sense or a real need! They all benefit from the industry they are fighting but mostly from the income they get while fighting while ignoring so much.
    Let’s all by government subsidized electric cars as that’ll solve everything!

  15. What do you do with a bully?
    Make no mistake about it, this is nothing but petty bully tactics simply because they can (or so they think, because our vote count is small). Their environmental litigating friends are just an extension and tool of the DC bullies.
    Maybe it is time for the western states to band together and take all those lands that the feds still hold on to for “save keeping”. Governor build the road!

  16. Alaska Natives traditionally vote Democrat. Obama was a god to them, thus Trump was evil and Biden must be good. There are always consequences for misplaced loyalty, especially to a party that really cares nothing for you except your vote. Tragically, they’ll probably keep voting Democrat.

  17. Let’s just keep it quiet and build the road. The federal government will look like horrible if they try to remove it. Politics is all about image.

  18. Lisa Murkowski always votes for women, Sally Jewell, Deb Haaland, Jennifer Granholm. No matter how radical anti fossil fuel, anti mining, anti logging their political views are. Oil is the life blood of Alaska. Alaska has the least amount of roads of any lower 48.

  19. Build a RV trail, then build the road. Defy the tyranny. What a mistake appointing her Interior Secretary. She’s awful, thanks LISA MURKOWSKI :o(

  20. Just build the road. STOP asking for permission from the Federal Communist Tyrants. ALL Alaskans need to stop being colonized babies and take real possesion and control of OUR ALASKAN LANDS. F the Feds.

  21. From mrak “Haaland was confirmed as the first Native American to head the agency, a vote in Senate that won approval from both of Alaska’s senators, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan”. Pay attention. They are taking everything you have.

  22. Why isnt Mary and Buzzy Peltosi grandstanding and backing her native “sinister sister”? Because she doesnt need those measely few votes from the few residents. Without year round medivac capabilities there will be less than a few anyway. East Palistine Ohio is another example of what happens when you dont vote for “The Big Guy”! She has BIG DC support from here on so no need to appease those “ducklings from the bush” who have no voice or control of their destiny. As I stated before it is a war between the indians and the eskimos which has been waging ever since they came to be and this is just another slap back after Haaland got sucker punched by Bidens decision on willow that he thinks will get him reelected. Pay attention to his strategy! The Willow approval would have NEVER come during the first two years of his mass destruction of Alaskan and domestic oil production. I will bet the farm on that last statement! GOP is sitting on there haunches thinking Biden is finished and that is exactly why we could have another four years of carnage! The Democrats are crazy enough to reelect him!

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