Interior Nomination Becomes Embroiled in Fight Over Alaska Refuge

"Alaska’s Izembek National Wildlife Refuge is a 315,000-acre stretch of eelgrass and tundra pockmarked with lakes and lagoons, a site where the geese called Pacific black brants stop off to feed before they begin their journey to wintering grounds in Mexico."

"But the fate of this remote wilderness area has become a critical bargaining chip in an inside-the-Beltway battle, with Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) threatening to block Sally Jewell’s nomination as interior secretary unless the Obama administration agrees to put a road through it.

For nearly 20 years, Alaskan politicians have lobbied the federal government to construct a roughly 20-mile gravel road connecting the tiny village of King Cove to the larger town of Cold Bay, so its 750 year-round residents could have access to an all-weather airport in case of medical emergencies. Like many remote communities, King Cove has no road out, relying on air and marine transport."

Juliet Eilperin reports for the Washington Post February 24, 2013.

Source: Wash Post, 02/25/2013