Alaska senators set on King Cove road despite federal ruling

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Alaska's senators say they won't give up the fight for King Cove. After a federal judge blocked the Trump Administration's plan to create a roadway to the isolated community in March, the Alaska delegation on Capitol Hill says it is simply a legal speed bump. Neither side of the debate appears willing to budge.

Following the ruling from an Alaska District Court judge, the Trump administration's attempt to hand federally protected land over to the King Cove Corporation hit a red light. The deal would have paved the way for construction of a roughly 12 mile road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge that would connect King Cove to an airport at Cold Bay.

"People may have different points of view about this but you can't take shortcuts. And what the Trump administration did here was they just went ahead and said, 'No, we want to build this road,' without considering what the law required," said Adam Kolton from the Alaska Wilderness League.

He says the road would cause serious damage to wildlife in the area. The Obama administration agreed, leading them to protect Izembek from construction.

"There are many safer alternatives than this impassable road in extreme weather conditions," said Kolton.

Kolton says hovercrafts are a better means of transportation, a method previously used in the area. But Alaska's senators on Capitol Hill say they will not give up their push for a roadway.

"The risk to life and limb of human beings is at stake here," said Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska.

Sullivan says the road is necessary for health and safety reasons, the Coast Guard has had to execute numerous medevacs over the years. Sullivan says proponents of the road will comb through the judge's ruling and address any issues so they can move forward.

"To make sure that legally and lawfully we will be able to move forward with the conveyance that will allow for this road," said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska.

It is unclear if or when the Trump administration will appeal the decision.



 
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