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28th Legislature(2013-2014)

Bill Text 28th Legislature


00 Enrolled HJR 30                                                                                                         
01 Requesting that the federal government and the United States Secretary of the Interior                                  
02 reconsider the Izembek Land Exchange decision and approve the Izembek Land Exchange,                                    
03 allowing the residents of King Cove to have road access to the Cold Bay Airport for critical                            
04 health and safety reasons and to improve the quality of their lives.                                                    
05                                         _______________                                                                 
06 BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF ALASKA:                                                             
07      WHEREAS the approximately 950 residents of King Cove need safe and reliable                                      
08 surface access to the Cold Bay Airport for reasons of health, safety, and quality of life; and                          
09      WHEREAS that access would be a single-lane, gravel road with cable barriers on                               
10 both sides of the road that would traverse a small portion of the Izembek National Wildlife                             
11 Refuge, which surrounds King Cove and Cold Bay; and                                                                     
12      WHEREAS, for three decades, the Aleut residents of King Cove and the state have                                  
13 clashed with the federal government over the likely benefits and potential effects of the road;                         
14 and                                                                                                                     
15      WHEREAS the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 authorized a land                                         
16 exchange to provide for the road, with an unprecedented offer of over 61,000 acres from the                             
01 State of Alaska and King Cove Corporation to the federal government for 206 acres and a                                 
02 small parcel on Sitkanuk Island that would be used to construct a modest access road for daily                          
03 use by 15 to 20 vehicles; and                                                                                           
04      WHEREAS, in 2010, the legislature unanimously passed and Governor Parnell                                        
05 signed into law House Bill No. 210, enacted as ch. 119, SLA 2010, approving the state's                                 
06 participation in the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009; and                                                    
07      WHEREAS the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 mandated an                                               
08 Environmental Impact Statement be completed by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service                              
09 before the United States Secretary of the Interior could approve the Izembek Land Exchange                              
10 and issue a Record of Decision and Public Interest Finding; and                                                         
11      WHEREAS the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009 designated the State                                      
12 of Alaska, the Aleutians East Borough, the City of King Cove, the King Cove Corporation,                                
13 the Agdaagux Tribe of King Cove, and the Native Village of Belkofski as "Cooperating                                    
14 Agencies" to work with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service to prepare an objective                              
15 and balanced Environmental Impact Statement as the basis for the Izembek Land Exchange                                  
16 Record of Decision and Public Interest Finding; and                                                                     
17      WHEREAS, for over four years, the Cooperating Agencies actively participated in                                  
18 every step of the Environmental Impact Statement process by participating in over 100                                   
19 meetings with United States Fish and Wildlife Service, by conducting and providing detailed                             
20 document reviews, and by maintaining an expectation for reasonable, balanced, and properly                              
21 vetted scientific findings of both the human and natural environments in the Izembek area and                           
22 conclusions under the Purpose and Need section of the Environmental Impact Statement                                    
23 supporting "a transportation access alternative between the City of King Cove and the Cold                              
24 Bay Airport which is safe, reliable, and affordable"; and                                                               
25      WHEREAS, in March 2013, then United States Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar                                 
26 announced that the final Environmental Impact Statement selected the No Action alternative,                             
27 thus rejecting the Izembek Land Exchange and road connection from King Cove to the Cold                                 
28 Bay Airport; and                                                                                                        
29      WHEREAS, in announcing that decision, the official spokesperson of the United                                    
30 States Fish and Wildlife Service publicly stated, "safety considerations are important, but they                        
31 were not a factor in this decision--at least not a factor we analyzed, since we only analyzed                           
01 the environmental impacts, which is what we were called upon to do since we are not a public                            
02 safety organization"; and                                                                                               
03      WHEREAS hearing this public admission that transportation accessibility and safety                               
04 concerns, particularly during times of medical emergency, do not matter to the United States                            
05 Fish and Wildlife Service was egregious to King Cove residents; and                                                     
06      WHEREAS the Cooperating Agencies protested the No Action alternative and                                         
07 notified Secretary Salazar that his decision violated the federal government's and his official                         
08 trust responsibility to the Aleut people of King Cove, failed to analyze the value of over                              
09 61,000 acres of new federal land to be designated as refuge and wilderness land as part of the                          
10 Act, failed to provide an environmental justice analysis, violated substantial standards under                          
11 the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, and violated various Presidential Executive                              
12 Orders regarding the trust and other responsibilities of the federal government to the Aleut                            
13 tribes and individual Alaska Native residents of King Cove; and                                                         
14      WHEREAS, with the support of the Alaska Congressional delegation, Governor                                       
15 Parnell, and the legislature, Secretary Ken Salazar agreed to meet with King Cove residents                             
16 and listen to their factual responses and heart-felt emotions regarding the No Action                                   
17 alternative; and                                                                                                        
18      WHEREAS Secretary Salazar agreed to have his successor, United States Secretary                                  
19 of the Interior Sally Jewell, and Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Kevin Washburn,                                 
20 personally visit King Cove in the summer of 2013 to tour the community and meet with local                              
21 residents, discuss with the community's health care providers the extreme difficulty of                                 
22 transporting patients in times of emergency to the Cold Bay Airport for access to medical                               
23 facilities and providers in Anchorage, and conduct tribal consultation sessions with Agdaagux                           
24 and Belkofski tribe members, including discussions regarding the federal government's and                               
25 the Secretary's trust responsibility in the final Izembek Record of Decision and Public Interest                        
26 Finding; and                                                                                                            
27      WHEREAS the Cooperating Agencies unanimously recommended the approval of                                         
28 the land exchange as authorized by the United States Congress in the Omnibus Public Land                                
29 Management Act of 2009 and provided detailed information during the Environmental Impact                                
30 Statement process that made clear that no alternative other than approval of the land                                   
31 exchange, which would include approval of the road corridor, could provide safe, reliable, and                          
01 affordable transportation access under the Purpose and Need section of the Environmental                                
02 Impact Study; and                                                                                                       
03      WHEREAS the information provided in the Environmental Impact Statement process                                   
04 included biological and technical information concerning environmental justice and                                      
05 transportation considerations, which the federal government and the Secretary purposefully                              
06 ignored; and                                                                                                            
07      WHEREAS, unfortunately, those visits and that information had no effect on the                                   
08 federal government's and Secretary Jewell's final decision, which she announced on                                      
09 December 23, 2013, and her decision was simply to reaffirm the prior No Action alternative                              
10 recommended by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service in its proposed Final                                        
11 Environmental Impact Statement; and                                                                                     
12      WHEREAS, in Secretary Jewell's decision, she claimed that other alternatives were                              
13 available to meet the Purpose and Need of the Environmental Impact Statement; however, she                              
14 did not contact the Cooperating Agencies, including the State of Alaska, the municipalities,                            
15 the tribes, or the King Cove Corporation, to provide those alternatives or make any attempt to                          
16 meet the needs of the Aleut and other residents of King Cove as required by the federal                                 
17 government's trust responsibility to those Alaska Native residents, thereby blatantly violating                         
18 the federal government's trust responsibility to the Alaska Natives; and                                              
19      WHEREAS the King Cove Access Project Environmental Impact Statement (2001-                                       
20 2003) and the current Izembek Land Exchange Environmental Impact Statement (2010-2014)                                  
21 considered, and then reconsidered, all possible marine, rail, air, and surface transportation                           
22 alternatives and properly concluded that a surface transportation alternative is the only                               
23 alternative that meets the Purpose and Need for safe, reliable, and affordable transportation;                        
24 and                                                                                                                     
25      WHEREAS the Secretary has been led to believe by the United States Fish and                                      
26 Wildlife Service that a marine landing craft can provide the necessary transportation access                            
27 from the City of King Cove over Cold Bay and has not been willing to listen to the prevailing,                          
28 local marine knowledge that the wind, wave, and ice conditions in Cold Bay prevent that                                 
29 alternative from being a plausible and realistic solution; and                                                          
30      WHEREAS the Secretary has shown no awareness or concern for the frightening,                                     
31 precarious, and time-sensitive situations, including weather conditions, that affect emergency                          
01 medevacs by small plane, fishing vessel, or United States Coast Guard helicopter; and                                   
02      WHEREAS the Secretary has violated her trust responsibilities by not selecting the                               
03 only transportation access alternative that meets the Purpose and Need, and consequently,                               
04 does not appear to understand that this "trust" is not a limitation on Alaska Natives' freedom                          
05 and rights; it is a limit on the federal government's power over Alaska Natives, and                                    
06 specifically, a limit on the United States Department of the Interior's power over Alaska                               
07 Natives; and                                                                                                          
08      WHEREAS the Secretary apparently does not know or care that the courts have                                      
09 liberally construed legal rulings in favor of Alaska Natives and that all executive branch                              
10 decisions are subject to a "presumption of reviewability"; and                                                          
11      WHEREAS the Alaska Congressional delegation, Governor Parnell, the Aleutians                                     
12 East Borough, the City of King Cove, the King Cove Corporation, and the Agdaagux and                                    
13 Belkofski tribes have requested that Secretary Jewell reconsider her decision because it was                            
14 based on faulty information in the final Environmental Impact Statement, particularly the lack                          
15 of a transportation access alternative other than a road that meets the safe, reliable, and                             
16 affordable criteria of the Purpose and Need section of the Environmental Impact Statement;                              
17 the final Environmental Impact Statement did not include a proper Public Interest Finding as                            
18 required by the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, did not include any evidence                                
19 of honoring Secretary Salazar's commitment to have Assistant Secretary Washburn prepare a                               
20 report that "will address whether and to what extent the road is needed to meet medical                                 
21 emergency requirements of King Cove," and did not meet the federal government's trust                                   
22 responsibility to the Aleut residents of King Cove; and                                                                 
23      WHEREAS the legislature finds the federal government's decision by Secretary                                     
24 Jewell to be another insulting example of the federal government's overreach into the lives,                            
25 health, and safety of all Alaskans by making ill-informed and biased decisions about our lives                          
26 with regard to our unique natural and human environments, which have harmoniously                                       
27 coexisted for centuries;                                                                                                
28      BE IT RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature requests and demands the                                        
29 following actions from the federal government and United States Secretary of the Interior                               
30 Sally Jewell:                                                                                                           
31           (1)  reconsideration of the Izembek Land Exchange decision based on technical                                 
01 and procedural deficiencies; and                                                                                        
02           (2)  approval of the Izembek Land Exchange, allowing the residents of King                                    
03 Cove to have road access to the Cold Bay Airport for critical health and safety reasons and to                          
04 improve the quality of their lives.                                                                                     
05      COPIES of this resolution shall be sent to the Honorable Barack Obama, President of                              
06 the United States; the Honorable Sally Jewell, United States Secretary of the Interior; the                             
07 Honorable Sean Parnell, Governor of Alaska; and the Honorable Lisa Murkowski and the                                    
08 Honorable Mark Begich, U.S. Senators, and the Honorable Don Young, U.S. Representative,                                 
09 members of the Alaska delegation in Congress.                                                                           
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