The U.S. Department of Interior: Putting animals before people, one scandalously rejected infrastructure project at a time

posted at 2:41 pm on June 5, 2014 by Erika Johnsen

I often lament the fact that the federal government currently owns and controls almost a third of the surface area of the United States, and that the federal agencies charged with the stewardship of these areas have over the decades succumbed to the considerable lobbying-and-litigating powers of environmentalist groups determined to impose their misbegotten and dastardly land-use policies onto ever-encroaching swaths of the American landscape. These radical and so-called conservationists have managed to prevent anything and everything from fire suppression activities to recreation to energy and commercial development — usually under the guise of protecting some sort of almost-threatened species — doing loads of damage to the environment in the process as well as systematically squeezing rural communities and economies.

This is a painfully excellent example of that. Via the Anchorage Daily News:

A group of Alaska native tribes, corporations and city and borough governments representing residents of King Cove has filed a lawsuit in federal court in an attempt to get judges to do what U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has so far refused to do: allow a road to nearby Cold Bay.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Juneau, asks the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska to prevent Jewell and the Department of the Interior from stopping the road, which would be extended by 11 miles to allow residents of King Cove, in Southwest Alaska, better access to the all-weather airstrip at Cold Bay, about 19 miles away.

Jewell said in December 2013 that she wouldn’t allow the road, even though it had been approved by Congress and included a land swap that would have given the nearby Izembek National Widlife refuge 60,000 acres of land for about 200 acres of road access. …

Jewell has said that the road would impose on eel grass beds — favorite nesting beds for Pacific black brant and emperor geese. Jewell said she wanted the King Cove villagers to come up with alternatives to building a road.

So… Jewell wants to protect the “favorite nesting beds” of some birds, which, by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service‘s own definition, “breed over an extensive range in Alaska, Arctic Canada and Russia”? That’s certainly interesting. Let’s compare that to the King Cove residents’ justification for wanting to build a road through this apparently treasured wildlife refuge in the middle of a state that is basically one giant wildlife refuge itself.

King Cove only has a small medicine clinic that can’t handle major medical emergencies, and they only have one airstrip that can’t handle jets or takeoffs and landings at night or in poor weather. The weather is often poor in King Cove, Alaska, meaning that with all of the wind and fog, medical evacuations for sick and/or injured residents are basically impossible. King Cove would like to build this 11-mile road to connect them to another town with a better airstrip, which Congress has approved and for which they have offered a more than fair 60,000 acres of land in return, but the U.S. Department of Interior keeps denying their request and wants them to “come up with alternatives to building a road.” So far, they have already tried boat as well as hovercraft connections between the two towns, to no avail.

Yes, this is real life.

Just take a look at the Department of Interior’s official announcement last December denying King Cove the road access through the refuge:

WASHINGTON, DC – As directed by Congress in the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today concluded a four-year analysis, and issued a decision supporting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s preferred alternative to decline a proposed land exchange with the State of Alaska and prevent construction of a road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, which was first established in the 1960s.

The nearly four-year analysis on the effects of the proposed land exchange, including the impact a road would have on Izembek’s vital ecology and congressionally-designated wilderness helped to inform the Secretary’s decision. In addition, a personal visit to the Refuge and the King Cove and Cold Bay communities as well as a report from the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs regarding the medical evacuation benefits of the proposed road were considered.

Got that? The U.S. Department of Interior is spending your tax dollars doing a four-year environmental impact review of a proposed 11-mile road that can save human lives, simultaneously forcing King Cove residents to spend their own time and resources to come up with alternatives.

Why, why, why is any of this up to the grossly unjust and ideological whimsy of the federal bureaucracy rather than the state of Alaska?


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Dear God, let me be the judge for one day.

Schadenfreude on June 5, 2014 at 2:43 PM

The obama thugs hate people.

Schadenfreude on June 5, 2014 at 2:43 PM

I’d sue.

Newtie and the Beauty on June 5, 2014 at 2:45 PM

The government often places animals ahead of people (e.g. destroying the farmland of central California to protect minnows).

bw222 on June 5, 2014 at 2:46 PM

Can’t be too careful on these things. Perhaps another study or two might put things right?

butch on June 5, 2014 at 2:48 PM

Just part of the democrats War on America.

Flange on June 5, 2014 at 2:49 PM

Better not poach the king’s deer neither.

Akzed on June 5, 2014 at 2:50 PM

The government often places animals ahead of people (e.g. destroying the farmland of central California to protect minnows).
bw222 on June 5, 2014 at 2:46 PM

It’s the delta smelt which is not even indigenous.

Akzed on June 5, 2014 at 2:51 PM

Can you say ‘Fascism’?

I knew you could….

Athos on June 5, 2014 at 2:52 PM

And people wonder why states want to secede…

vnvet on June 5, 2014 at 2:53 PM

The government often places animals ahead of people (e.g. destroying the farmland of central California to protect minnows).

bw222 on June 5, 2014 at 2:46 PM

Destroying the farmlands, bankrupting the families that owned them into foreclosure so the spouses of boxer and pelosi can grab that same dusty land and develop it, or resell it to developers after the spigots are turned back on.

Lets not forget what all that new dusty wasteland will do to everything east of that area that was shut down. More environmental destruction, all courtesy of your local communist democrat progressives.

Diluculo on June 5, 2014 at 2:54 PM

I’d sue.

Newtie and the Beauty on June 5, 2014 at 2:45 PM

I’d just build it and make them come in with the armed federal thugs…

Laws be damned…what difference does it make anyway???…

PatriotRider on June 5, 2014 at 2:54 PM

First step needs to be to turn all BLM lands to the states they are held in and disband the BLM. It is an organization that literally does not need to exist.

Again, that’s just the first step, but it’s an important one.

Nessuno on June 5, 2014 at 2:56 PM

Remember when mayor Daley shut down Miegs Field in the middle of the night, ripped up the runways, etc.

Just do the same thing with this road…build it and screw the Fed’s…

That’s what I would do…

PatriotRider on June 5, 2014 at 2:57 PM

These radical and so-called conservationists have managed to prevent anything and everything from fire suppression activities…

Those of us in the White Mountains of NE Arizona have them to thank for the Rodeo-Chedeski fine in 2002 which, at that time was the largest wildfire in AZ’s history. We had moved to Show Low, AZ, from Texas (jokingly I said to escape tornados, one of which had recently hit downtown Fort Worth and the area of Arlington we lived in) just a couple of months before the fire started (and the week-long evacuation which soon followed).

For several years after the fire, there was a large billboard in Heber-Overgaard which said “Thanks, environMENTALists for the Rodeo-Chedeski fire” and then listed the number of acres burned, residences destroyed, etc.

oldsquid on June 5, 2014 at 3:00 PM

It s long past time for the states to ignore edicts from the federal govt. To paraphrase Andrew jackson, “they’ve made their little edicts, now let’s see them enforce them.”

Warner Todd Huston on June 5, 2014 at 3:00 PM

Chris Christie puts up a roadblock. Outrage ensues.

Leftists block actual roads. Deaths ensue.

faraway on June 5, 2014 at 3:00 PM

Birds are cool.

antisense on June 5, 2014 at 3:01 PM

OT:

D-Day Live from the CBC

kcewa on June 5, 2014 at 3:01 PM

Here’s how to get your road, Alaska: come to AZ and transport back to AK a few truckloads of illegal aliens. Then tell Interior that the road is essential for the illegals to be able to make it to the polling place on election day.

You’ll have your road approval in no time. The federal government will probably even volunteer to build the damn road for you.

AZCoyote on June 5, 2014 at 3:04 PM

I’d just build it and make them come in with the armed federal thugs…
Laws be damned…what difference does it make anyway???…
PatriotRider on June 5, 2014 at 2:54 PM</blockquote
And don't, under any circumstances, use union labour…you'll want it done ASAP AND correctly the first time ;-)

Newtie and the Beauty on June 5, 2014 at 3:04 PM

Better not poach the king’s deer dogs neither.

Akzed on June 5, 2014 at 2:50 PM

Or the queen’s lobster…

dentarthurdent on June 5, 2014 at 3:09 PM

Too bad the Eskimos aren’t Mexican. That whole US citizen thing is really holding them back…

Wyznowski on June 5, 2014 at 3:10 PM

Because ecolibs living in concrete jungles imagine themselves hiking through pristine wilderness during their time off, then back to their 24/7 modern city without all those mosquitoes and ticks but WITH all the modern conveniences.

There isn’t one of them who wouldn’t be aghast to discover that Cold Bay doesn’t have a Starbucks, a pet therapist, or live Broadway-scale theater productions.

Bishop on June 5, 2014 at 3:13 PM

As I recall, the French had a good way to deal with these kinds of gubmint idiots some years ago….

dentarthurdent on June 5, 2014 at 3:13 PM

Their methods serve multiple purposes, not the least of which is pushing more of the population into dense urban areas, where it’s easier to keep an eye on them and they are constantly at risk of rising seas or whatever else needs to be cited to justify higher taxes.

JeremiahJohnson on June 5, 2014 at 3:13 PM

Because ecolibs living in concrete jungles imagine themselves hiking through pristine wilderness during their time off, then back to their 24/7 modern city without all those mosquitoes and ticks but WITH all the modern conveniences.

There isn’t one of them who wouldn’t be aghast to discover that Cold Bay doesn’t have a Starbucks, a pet therapist, or live Broadway-scale theater productions.

Bishop on June 5, 2014 at 3:13 PM

And they think it’s ok to give a grizzly bear a hug to show him you care….

dentarthurdent on June 5, 2014 at 3:14 PM

if I were potus for 2 weeks the world would be flabbergasted and very afraid of a second term of me.

dmacleo on June 5, 2014 at 3:15 PM

Are there any environmental lawyers who actually do not like the environment? Lol

coolrepublica on June 5, 2014 at 3:18 PM

Jewell has said that the road would impose on eel grass beds — favorite nesting beds for Pacific black brant and emperor geese. Jewell said she wanted the King Cove villagers to come up with alternatives to building a road.

If the road was built, the emperor geese would find other eel grass nesting sites somewhere in those 60,000 acres.

Proof that the Obama Administration doesn’t have the sense God gave geese.

Steve Z on June 5, 2014 at 3:19 PM

Are there any environmental lawyers who actually do not like the environment? Lol

coolrepublica on June 5, 2014 at 3:18 PM

All of them.
Because they don’t know what they’re doing, it’s all emotion (feel-good) based, and as a result they usually cause more harm than good.

dentarthurdent on June 5, 2014 at 3:20 PM

And they think it’s ok to give a grizzly bear a hug to show him you care….

dentarthurdent on June 5, 2014 at 3:14 PM

I really, REALLY wish libtards would line up for grizzly hugs. I’d sell tickets for that one.

Diluculo on June 5, 2014 at 3:21 PM

What about getting obama on board for high speed rail!

tim c on June 5, 2014 at 3:23 PM

I really, REALLY wish libtards would line up for grizzly hugs. I’d sell tickets for that one.

Diluculo on June 5, 2014 at 3:21 PM

Ya – too bad there was no video to go with the audio of the last time an environut tried that.
It would been a hit on pay-per-view….

dentarthurdent on June 5, 2014 at 3:26 PM

It’s racism, pure and simple! It’s a war on Native Americans! It’s an outrageous decision that tramples on the rights of the Noble Other, due purely to the color of their skin and their heritage!

I’d sue on the grounds that it’s the Obama administration’s deliberate and willful efforts to persecute the Native Americans, if not an outright effort to slowly exterminate them by denying them the means to seek medical attention.

I’d love to see how the administration handles such an accusation.

BLOC on June 5, 2014 at 3:29 PM

Kharma in my perfect world fantasy universe…

Interior Secretary Scrunt flies up to King Cove to have a look-see for herself. Schedules this trip just ahead of a major weather event.

As the weather event unfolds, local wildlife officials accidentally loose control of a venomous snake, for whose venom the nearest source of antivenin is Anchorage.

Wishing to meet this benevolent benefactor of all things wild, the snake approaches Secretary Scrunt and tries to shake her hand with its fangs. Venomous agony ensues.

The weather event makes use of the King Cove airport impossible until storm passes. Locals calmly tell Secretary Scrunt that she’ll just have to wait to be flown there for treatment as they figure out alternatives to building a road to the Cold Bay airport.
As she writhes in agony, passing flocks of emperor geese and Pacific black brant drop a barrage of goose goo on her miserable head.

Sigh….

VelvetElvis on June 5, 2014 at 3:30 PM

Here is the alternative Jewell would like: Move out of King Cove and into an efficiency apartment in Anchorage. Environmentalists would like nothing more that for everyone to live urban, except for those environmentalists who think urban development is bad for the environment.

tdarrington on June 5, 2014 at 3:33 PM

That’s because the purpose in life of these people is to protect the animals. It is not to protect the people.
When thinking of government agencies I’m always reminded of Ben Rich’s recollections of dealing with one of the auditors:
“The chief auditor came to me during a plant visit and said: “Mr, Rich, let me get something straight: I don’t give a damn if you turn out scrap. It’s far more important that you turn out the forms we require” (Ben Rich Skunk Works p. 80)
To the chief auditor, it didn’t matter whether Lockheed/Skunk Works were successful or not in building the F-117. All he cared about was his tasks.

selimt on June 5, 2014 at 3:34 PM

Just build the damn road, and dare the Interior Dept. Desk weenies to come up and tear it up.

Republicans really need to start planning the elimination of all these federal agencies, and divestment of these federal lands to the states.

Iblis on June 5, 2014 at 3:34 PM

I love how I can type a comment in a box headed by “Logged in as tdarrington”, but I can’t submit the comment because I am not logged in. So I have to Log Out, then log in to be logged in.

tdarrington on June 5, 2014 at 3:36 PM

Just build the damn road, and dare the Interior Dept. Desk weenies to come up and tear it up.

The EPA wouldn’t tear it up. They would levy some absurd daily incrementing fine on the community until they tore it up and returned the land to better than pristine condition.

tdarrington on June 5, 2014 at 3:38 PM

All he cared about was his tasks paperwork.

selimt on June 5, 2014 at 3:34 PM

Minor change….

dentarthurdent on June 5, 2014 at 3:42 PM

Putting animals before people, one scandalously rejected infrastructure project at a time

…let’s face it!…they’re probably…into bestiality!

KOOLAID2 on June 5, 2014 at 3:53 PM

Better not poach the king’s deer dogs neither.

Akzed on June 5, 2014 at 2:50 PM

No, that would be OK. F8ck Face, although he likes his dogs roasted, is perfectly happy to eat them poached.

NOMOBO on June 5, 2014 at 4:05 PM

I’d sue.

Newtie and the Beauty on June 5, 2014 at 2:45 PM

I’d just build it and make them come in with the armed federal thugs…

PatriotRider on June 5, 2014 at 2:54 PM

That was going to be my response. Tell the national government what they can do with their eel grass. Once you’ve bulldozed it, it’s a fait accompli.

GWB on June 5, 2014 at 4:13 PM

Just part of the democrats War on Rural America.

Flange on June 5, 2014 at 2:49 PM

Fixed.

This is 100% part of the war on rural America. Progs want all of us crammed into cities. Message to the poor folks in King Cove is: move to Anchorage! Or better yet, move to Seattle.

The Department of the Interior in the hands of such people is frightening.

rockmom on June 5, 2014 at 4:13 PM

First step needs to be to turn all BLM lands to the states they are held in and disband the BLM. It is an organization that literally does not need to exist.

Again, that’s just the first step, but it’s an important one.

Nessuno on June 5, 2014 at 2:56 PM

Next step, defund the gargantuan EPA. You could hire enough doctors for the VA with that.

J.B. Say on June 5, 2014 at 4:13 PM

Here is the alternative Jewell would like: Move out of King Cove and into an efficiency apartment in Anchorage. Environmentalists would like nothing more that for everyone to live urban, except for those environmentalists who think urban development is bad for the environment.

tdarrington on June 5, 2014 at 3:33 PM

Exactly!

Or better yet, go back to living the way Native Americans lived in Alaska 500 years ago! How dare they want modern medicine!!

rockmom on June 5, 2014 at 4:15 PM

rockmom on June 5, 2014 at 4:13 PM

I certainly don’t doubt your notion that it’s also a part of the War on Rural America, but that itself is a part of the larger War on America. Every tradition or ideal this country ever held is under attack right now. Everything that made us great has been or is being undermined.

Flange on June 5, 2014 at 4:18 PM

Maybe the villagers should build a bridge.
The eco nuts in Missoula, MT, decided to fight the noxious weed problem on Mt Jumbo by placing sheep on the hill to eat the stuff. They even hired a sheep herder to watch the sheep, paying him minimum wage plus donations from generous libs in town. Maybe this is why the guy stopped showing up. This year the wild big horn sheep rams heard about all the girls foraging on the hill and decided to join them. The eco nuts couldn’t let that happen so they have decided to kill all the wild rams who show up. This just after a story in the local rag bemoaning the fact that big horn sheep numbers are down drastically in the state. I’ll never figure these people out.

Kissmygrits on June 5, 2014 at 4:53 PM

They are not putting animals before people. It is very foolish to think so. They are putting some people before, and above, other people.

VorDaj on June 5, 2014 at 4:56 PM

The government often places animals ahead of people (e.g. destroying the farmland of central California to protect minnows).
bw222 on June 5, 2014 at 2:46 PM

If you go back about 6 or 7 years when the California Delta smelt population became the rallying cry for changing almost all water rights in California, it was predicted droughts would shut down farming in the Golden State. Everyone laughed, because gummint always knows better. Now, Cali gummint and the feds are trying to figure out where all the veggies went to and have no idea what to do about the current drought, so they are blaming it all on global warming climate change climate weirding the changing climate caused by Republicans or the Kochs or something…

DublOh7 on June 5, 2014 at 5:32 PM

Destroying the farmlands, bankrupting the families that owned them into foreclosure so the spouses of boxer and pelosi can grab that same dusty land and develop it, or resell it to developers after the spigots are turned back on.

Bingo. Eliminate the generally conservative and independent small family farms/businesses who are forced to sell what they have for pennies on the dollars, to the likes of Monsanto or ADM, or just go out of busines, since they have been over-regulated and other government imposed costs on them makes it impossible to continue. The buyers being, most likely multinational firms with close ties to our politicians, either for more subdivisions of houses or business parks on an urban fringe, or for larger corporate farms. And the spigots will be turned on and endangered species will be ignored or found to be not so endangered after all.

hawkeye54 on June 5, 2014 at 6:21 PM

Cali gummint and the feds are trying to figure out where all the veggies went to and have no idea what to do about the current drought, so they are blaming it all on global warming climate change climate weirding the changing climate caused by Republicans or the Kochs or something…

Thats okay, its perfectly fine for us to pay higher prices for and be dependent upon imported produce. It’s just addressing the issue of food inequality. We’ve been eating more than our share.

/SNARK

hawkeye54 on June 5, 2014 at 6:25 PM

Don’t forget Erika, this Administration is “the best and brightest!”

GarandFan on June 5, 2014 at 8:25 PM

Let me get this straight….

It took an act of congress to get permission to build an 11 mile long road in the middle of friggin nowhere Alaska….

And that STILL wasn’t good enough???

We’re done folks.

runawayyyy on June 6, 2014 at 12:21 PM

The solution is armed resistance to tyranny. Build the road and F the feds. You are mistaken that the fed owns 30% of all the land in the US, it owns ALL the land in the US by legal and regulatory fiat. Revolution is the only answer.

earlgrey on June 6, 2014 at 1:14 PM