I thought this issue was settled, but apparently not.
King Cove is a remote town in Alaska with an airport that can only handle flight in good weather. This means that when people become seriously ill and need hospitalization, they may not be able to access life-saving help.
A simple solution was proposed that can save lives and not materially impact the environment. About 20 miles away, there is an all-weather airport from which sick people from King Cove could be flown for medical help if they could only get there. But that would require cutting a gravel road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge, which consists of 300,000 acres.
So, the people of King Cove asked for permission to build the road which could be used for such evacuations. They even offered a land exchange to minimize any overall environmental damage.
The Obama administration said no, because “the animals” were more important than the people. The Trump administration reversed course, and the deal was struck. The inevitable lawsuit was filed, and the people of King Cove — who are mostly Native Alaskans — won. And surprise of surprises, the Biden administration has continued to defend the case in court.
Now, there’s an attempt to have an en banc panel rehear the appeal, and Jimmy Carter has filed an amicus brief against the people of King Cove in support of that effort. From the DNYUZ story:
In a rare legal filing by a former president, Mr. Carter this month supported an appeal by conservation groups to have a larger panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rehear the case. He wrote that the earlier ruling by a three-judge panel “is not only deeply mistaken, it’s dangerous.” The panel voted, 2-1, to uphold the land deal, with two Trump-appointed judges in favor.
Dangerous is having a burst appendix during a winter storm and being unable to get to a hospital!
I try to like Jimmy Carter. I really do. I think he is a very well-intentioned man. He has done excellent work post-presidency, particularly on fighting Guinea worm disease in Africa.
But this intervention shows that he is profoundly lacking in wisdom. A one-lane road is not going to harm a 300,000-acre refuge. Let’s hope further proceedings are denied and that road finally gets built.