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March 17, 1998

H.R. 2259 - King Cove Health and Safety Act
(Rep. Young (R) AK)

The Administration strongly opposes H.R. 2259 and, if presented to the President, the Secretary of the Interior would recommend that the bill be vetoed.

H.R. 2259 would create an objectionable and unprecedented perpetual right-of-way through portions of the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge and Izembek Wilderness for building a public road and maintaining utility-related fixtures between the communities of King Cove and Cold Bay in Alaska. H.R. 2259 is not compatible with the purposes for which the Refuge was established and would waive important environmental laws. As a result, H.R. 2259 would disrupt the habitat of many important species, including internationally-unique waterfowl populations and cause irreparable damage to the ecological integrity of this pristine wilderness area. Finally, the bill would undermine the intent of the recently enacted bipartisan "National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997."

The Administration recognizes the need to ensure safe and economical transportation between the remote communities of King Cove and Cold Bay in Alaska. The Department of the Interior will continue working with the State of Alaska and other interested parties to explore different transportation alternatives.