Rhea Sun Suh, President Obama’s nominee to be assistant secretary of the Interior over the National Park Service (NPS) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), received a second grilling from Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) at her confirmation hearing on February 4 before the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
In 2009, Suh was confirmed by the Senate as the assistant secretary of the Interior for Policy, Management and Budget. The February 4 hearing was Suh’s second appearance before the committee for her newly nominated post; Sen. Murkowski, the energy panel’s top Republican, called for an additional hearing after Suh failed to be responsive at the initial December 12, 2013 hearing regarding controversial Department of Interior policies and Suh’s own knowledge of issues that are of great importance not only to the nation’s energy security, but also to the millions of people (especially in the western states) directly affected by NPS and FWS policies and decisions.
“I have serious reservations about not only what I perceive is your lack of knowledge of western lands issues, but also with your unfamiliarity with Alaska’s most pressing issues and unique governing statutes,” Sen. Murkoski told Suh in her February 4 opening statement.
“I’m not being overly parochial here,” the Alaskan solon continued, “as we have over 70 percent of the National Wildlife Refuge System and two-thirds of the National Park System located in Alaska, so when you indicated in our meeting that you were not prepared to discuss any of my State’s issues in any detail — that concerns me.”
Sen. Murkowski was particularly insistent on holding Suh’s feet to the fire over the Obama administration’s December 23, 2013 decision to kill an emergency road across a tiny corner of Alaska’s Izembeck National Wildlife Refuge to give the people of King Cove access to an all-weather airport and lifesaving medical treatment. The King Cove decision is one of numerous examples that have come to typify the federal government’s standard response of siding with the radical agenda of the well-funded, militant environmental lobby, regardless of the pain, suffering, and harm its policies cause to people, local economies, regions, and states.
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell (Rhea Sun Suh’s boss) announced the decision to reject the proposal for the emergency medical evacuation road two days before Christmas, inviting comparisons to the Grinch and Scrooge. The decision is considered by Alaskans to be all the more outrageous because Congress had already approved a land swap that vastly increased the size of the wildlife refuge, in exchange for a small parcel that would permit the much-needed road.
Reporting December 24 on the widespread Alaskan anger over Jewell’s announcement, SitNews.us of Ketchikan, Alaska, noted:
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Photo: Alaska’s Izembeck National Wildlife Refuge