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The PJ Tatler

by
Bridget Johnson

Bio

March 8, 2013 - 1:28 pm

Two Democrats are tangling over what one considers interference in his state by a congressman who doesn’t “understand that East Coast values do not always apply to other parts of the country.”

It started when Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who is running in the special election to fill John Kerry’s vacant Senate seat, asked Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to stand by a Fish and Wildlife Service decision to reject a proposal to build a road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska.

“I, like you, believe we should respect the judgment of our scientists and leave politics out of this decision,” wrote Markey, the ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee. “We must continue to protect our nation’s most beautiful and precious wilderness. Not construct an unreliable and potentially dangerous road through the heart of it.”

Fish and Wildlife claimed the road would hurt vital habitat for grizzly bears, caribou, salmon, shorebirds and waterfowl.

But Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) today told Markey to butt out, stressing the 25-mile road from King Cove to Cold Bay is a potential life saver for rural residents in case of medical emergencies.

In a letter to the Massachusetts Democrat, Begich expressed “great frustration” with Markey’s interference in the plight of rural Alaskans “who are being denied access to basic life and safety needs because of federal ignorance about our way of life.”

“I’m especially irritated you didn’t bother to reach out to me and try to gain a real understanding of the dire situation facing residents of King Cove, Alaska.”

In 2009, Congress approved a one-lane gravel road through just 206 acres of the 315,000-acre refuge in exchange for Alaska adding 60,000 of protected land. King Cove residents were never allowed to personally make their case to Salazar during the years-long environment review until only recently, Begich said.

“Your letter is typical of those from national Democrats who fail to understand the needs of Americans who live in the West, especially in some of the most remote and extreme parts of our nation such as Alaska. Life is especially challenging in these communities where the nearest hospital is an expensive airplane, boat or snow machine ride away. Yet these Americans deserve the same opportunities for basic health care and public safety as those who live in Boston or elsewhere in our country.  While the habitat values of the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge are indisputable, the residents of King Cove have taken good care of this area for generations,” Begich wrote.

“In the future, I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you and discuss the unique challenges facing residents of my state so you can better understand that East Coast values do not always apply to other parts of the country.”

Bridget Johnson is a career journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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All Comments   (18)
All Comments   (18)
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Even a stopped clock, etc., etc. Markey's motives seem fatuous and underexamined to me, but if it puts a burr under the saddle of the eternally pork-troughing, big-government sinkhole known as Alaska, it can't be 100% bad either. If "East Coast values" deny the occasional bit of taxpayer $$$ to Western pork addicts, then they're not wholly useless, however addled their tenets.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
well when you allow the fed to own most state land what could go wrong?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It's not like we had a choice. Alaska and Hawaii were only made states because of Soviet Bloc anti-colonialist pressure and the US granted that statehood very grudgingly. The military simply wanted both to be big military playgrounds. The DOI just liked all the well-paid sinecures. And the mining, timber, and fishing interests really, really, really didn't like the idea of a State legislature that had real power. As a Territory, all you had to do was make the right contribution or know the right DC bureaucrat and you got to own a river, dam it up, take alll the salmon returning to that river, and shoot any locals who tried to catch any of your fish.

The US tried to subvert the Statehood Act from the day it became law and never ran out of excuses to keep land in federal ownership. We stole a march on them and selected the Prudhoe Bay area before the US upped its game and froze selections. We still don't have all our land selections conveyed in now our 54th year of Statehood.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
well when you allow the fed to own most state land what could go wrong?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
ok not sure why that doubleposted, sorry.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
When you look at all the politicians that have come from Massachusetts, you have to believe it is the A.Hole of the political class.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Ed Markey is a good example of why I was 14 years old before I ever learned that "damn" and"yankee" were two different words.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
How does a gravel road hurt habitats??

What exactly does a gravel road do that threatens wildlife or endangers any fricking thing? Radical environmentalists need to be recycled...good and
hard.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
You can all thank GWB's failure to muck out the Public Integrity Section of the USDOJ. A bunch of Clinton holdovers mau-maued Senator Stevens, that idiot Palin piled on, the the Democrat weenie got elected. Alaska Democrats have to lie and talk like Republicans; some of them sound more like Republicans than most Republicans because they know they only have to talk the talk for show. Begich betrayed Alaska when he joined Harry Reid's caucus. Sure, they'll let him grandstand on stuff like this, might even let him have the road, but he knows he has to be a solid caucus vote on the big stuff or they start doing things to Alaska. Damn, I miss Ted Stevens!
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
In fact if he'd had any integrity he would have stepped aside in the primary and let another Republican run against Begich. He wouldn't do it because his ego was bigger than the Last Frontier.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
No, he knew he was being mau-maued by the FBI and PIS, and so did anybody else with a brain that was close enough to see what was really going on. What tipped it was St. Sarah throwing in and the "true conservative" types that hang on her every word either didn't vote or voted for the Constitution Party candidate, which siphoned off enough votes to elect Begich.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Stevens was representing Washington, D.C. to the Alaskans instead of the other way around, and they kept sending him back because the loss of seniority with electing a new Senator scared them spitless. The way he went was wrong -- but he needed to go.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
I was a part of giving Sen. Stevens a "near death" experience over his support for ANILCA back in '80. I think he couldn't see beyond the possibility of his becoming Minority Leader after the '80 election and went into get along, go along with the Democrats on a piece of legislation that has been very bad for Alaska. If he'd held out and stopped ANILCA, it never would have passed a Republican Senate or been signed by Pres. Reagan. After the Hell he caught over that, he remained focussed on doing what Alaska wanted and doing things for Alaska. Much of the porking charges against him are unjustified because most of the money the federal government spends in Alaska is on things the federal government does and owns in the landmass of Alaska, only about a third of which is the actual State of Alaska. The other two thirds are Indian land or federal land outright. The huge military presence here undoubtedly benefits Alaska but it is here to project US power in the Pacific and to protect the entire US, not just Alaska. The big FAA presence here does provide air traffic control to domestic flights to, from, and within Alaska but its primary purpose is ATC for over the pole and great circle route flights between Europe and the Lower 48 and Asia. The 17th Coast Guard district fishes Alaskan boaters out of the drink from time to time but its primary duty is policing and protecting the mostly Seattle-based North Pacific and Bering sea fishing fleets, securing the great circle cargo ship routes to and from Asia, and policing and protecting the Alaska trade tanker traffic to the West Coast - very little Alaska oil is actually consumed in Alaska.

One can certainly question the wisdom of being so closely associated with someone well known to be a scumbag, Bill Allen of Veco, but I believe Sen. Stevens honestly believed he was paying for everything Allen's employees did to his Girdwood house. I was doing some remodeling in the same time frame and I suspect I'm more closely attuned to Alaska prices than the Senator was and I know there were lots of times I had no clear idea what things were going to cost. I just had to trust that I was being billed fairly and pay what was asked. Taking him before a DC jury on a chickens**t reporting violation was pure politics. You could convict and sentence to death any white, male, Republican before a DC jury just for the crime of being a white, male, Republican.

If he'd been primaried in '08 with Palin's hand still in everything, we'd have had a preview of the Joe Miller fiasco except with a powerful and well known Democrat and Begich would have won anyway. The mystery of the '10 election is why some Democrat with statewide name ID didn't stand up because Lisa could only have pulled off her write in with such weak opposition. If Tony Knowles, Fran Ulmer, or maybe even Ethan Berkowitz or a couple others had replaced the guy from Sitka, Alaska would have twe Democrat senators today.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
for the life of me,I can't figure out why ANYONE in a Western/Rural state would be a demoncrat.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
for the life of me,I can't figure out why ANYONE would be a demoncrat.

fixed that for ya.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
In Begich's case it goes back to the early days of Statehood when Alaska was solidly Democrat and his Dad got elected to Congress, so Democrat politics is the family business. Dad disappeared along with Rep. Hale Boggs on a flight from Anchorage to Juneau in '72, and the seat passed to Don Young who has held it ever since, much to the Democrat's chagrin. His mom ran unsuccessfully for Congress. One of his brothers has held a few appointments in Democrat administrations. He was a Tony Knowles protege and got elected Mayor of Anchorage for two terms by talking like a Republican and giving Anchorage unions ANYTHING they wanted. Barring Republican fratricide, always a possibility, even a probability, in Alaska, he should be a one-term wonder.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Markey has been an insufferable eunuch for decades. Smear him with honey and set him loose in Grizzly country.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
That's YOUR party, Begich. Own it.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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