American Elephants


Common Sense Trumps Environmental Overreach by The Elephant's Child

The good news just keeps flowing out of the Trump administration. Today it is the case of a tiny Aleutian village—King Cove, Alaska.  It is a remote fishing village with around 1,000 inhabitants. The town has a clinic, but no doctor and no hospital. Their tiny airport is often locked in by gale-force winds and fog. When there’s a trauma case, childbirth, complications of all sorts, they must get to the all-weather airport in Cold Bay, 22 miles away for transportation for the 600 miles to Anchorage, hospitals and doctors.

King Cove residents have requested of the Interior Department a 22 mile long, one-lane gravel road to Cold Bay which would allow for all weather access to lifesaving medical care. Here’s the rest of the story I wrote back in 2014:

Etta Kuzakin, a 36-year-old King Cove resident who serves as Agdaagux tribal president, needed an emergency Caesarean section in March after going into early labor with her now 9-month-old daughter. Giving birth in King Cove could have killed her and her baby. Medevac flights into King Cove were grounded by ugly weather. Ms. Kuzakin waited in labor for ten hours until a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter flew her out in the afternoon.

“If there had been a road, it would be two hours out,” she said. “I sat there in labor not knowing if I was going to die or my kid was going to die. Pretty traumatic.” Fishing is also hard work, and injuries are common. According to local Aleutian elders, 19 people have died since 1980 because bad weather during emergency evacuations prevented them from getting out.

Sally Jewell, former U.S. Interior Secretary, met with Aleutian citizens in the gymnasium in King Cove, to hear their request for a simple one-lane gravel lifeline to a dependable airport. Ms. Jewell, former head of REI, told her King Cove audience thatI’ve listened to your stories, now I have to listen to the animals. She rejected the road, saying that it would jeopardize waterfowl in the refuge.”

“Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke will swap federal land with the Aleut of King Cove AK, on January 22, answering decades of pleas from local officials for a road.”

King Cove residents have pursued building an 11-mile, single-lane, non-commercial road between King Cove and the Cold Bay Airport for the past 35 years. In that time, at least 18 people have died from causes attributable to not having a road between the community and airport, according to documents obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation. …

Since 2013, 68 medevacs have evacuated King Cove residents to the airport for life threatening injuries or other immediate medical needs. Because the community is isolated, each medevac costs U.S. taxpayers as much as $210,000 a trip, TheDCNF has learned.

Environmentalists have argued for the purity and preservation of the Wilderness Act, but exceptions are possible, and Ms. Jewell was out in left field. She was a former head of REI, and, I assume, a city person unfamiliar with driving in the country where herds of sheep can often block the road, but even those can be moved off with a little shooing. This was not exactly a freeway that the Aleuts were asking for. Birds, even large ones, are moveable species, and unlikely to build nests on a road. Traffic was likely to be rare.

Democrats are apt to put great weight on their “compassionate” character. They care. Except when they don’t. But they believe that they do, and castigate Republicans constantly for their uncaring nature. Uh huh. You will notice that their fidelity to Green causes trumps compassion every time, except when you are talking about cleaning up your own mess after a demonstration.

Good for Secretary Zinke, good for President Trump, and I’m delighted that the Aleuts will get their simple one-lane gravel road.

You might enjoy William Voegeli’s 2014 book The Pity Party. The subtitle is “A Mean-Spirited Diatribe Against Liberal Compassion.” The Amazon comment “a scathing and reasoned critique of the politics of liberal compassion—and why liberals’ lack of interest in the results of their policies renders them unfit to govern.” It’s spot on.

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