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Murkowski-approved judge kills both Willow project & King Cove Road

November 2, 2021

U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason, who was enthusiastically championed by Sen. Lisa Murkowski in her Senate confirmation to the federal bench, has single-handedly killed two major projects of enormous importance to Alaskans. Gleason blocked both the multi-billion-dollar Willow oil and gas project, which would have created thousands of jobs in Alaska, and the King Cove Road, which would link Alaskans living in the Aleutians with life-saving emergency medical treatment.

Murkowski called Gleason a “superb judge” as she cast her vote for the lifetime appointment to the federal bench in 2011, and issued a statement praising the judge for being a woman and for being polite in court.

“Lisa Murkowski cared more about the gender of the judge, and the fact that she’s nice to people in court, than she did about what that judge would do to the people of Alaska in her rulings,” said Kelly Tshibaka, candidate for the U.S. Senate in Alaska. “Some votes have immediate impact on real people, and other ones take some time to reveal their importance. Murkowski’s vote to confirm Judge Gleason is one that repeatedly has resulted in disastrous consequences for Alaska.”

In August, Judge Gleason struck down the Trump administration’s approval of the Willow project, after which President Biden’s Department of the Interior ignored the deadline to file an appeal. Those two events are linked because Murkowski not only gleefully supported Gleason’s nomination, but she also was the deciding vote in a Senate committee to advance the nomination of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, who let the appeal deadline pass as part of Biden’s anti-Alaska assault.

Gleason also derailed the long-discussed road connecting King Cove to the all-weather airport in Cold Bay, which is crucial to saving lives because it will give residents access to emergency medical services unreachable by land transportation. Under former President Donald Trump, the Interior Department negotiated a land swap to create a corridor through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge that would make the road possible, but Gleason tossed the land exchange agreement.

“When it came time to protect Alaskans from an activist, liberal judge, Lisa Murkowski cared more about appearances than substance, and it’s costing our state dearly,” Tshibaka said. “She inherited her Senate seat from her father, and ever since she’s done more to try to impress her Washington, D.C. friends than she’s done to fight for the people she’s supposed to represent.”