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WASHINGTON, D.C. â€“ The Alaska congressional delegation Friday welcomed Escopeta Oil's discovery of an estimated 3.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas in Cook Inlet as a critical step in exploring Cook Inlet and vindication of the congressional delegation's efforts to address Jones Act issues related to the company's use of a foreign-flagged vessel to deliver a specialized drilling rig to Alaska.
The discovery is good news for Southcentral residents, who face rising utility bills because of declining gas supplies, and explains why the delegation fought so hard with the Obama administration and its agencies to overcome Jones Act issues that threatened to keep Escopeta from drilling in Cook Inlet this summer.
U.S. Sens. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, and Mark Begich, D-Alaska, and Congressman Don Young, R-Alaska, worked with the head of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to challenge objections to Escopeta’s use of a foreign-owned vessel to deliver a specialized jack-up drilling rig to Cook Inlet. The delegation believes that a Jones Act waiver was warranted because no U.S.-flagged vessel was capable of transporting a rig of that size in time to allow exploration this summer. As DHS deliberates a fine, the unique factors involved in this case should be understood as mitigating circumstances, and Homeland Security Secretary Napolitano should use her discretion in light of the facts.
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