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There may be help on the way for the community of Nome if a plan can be mapped out with the Coast Guard. The community didn't receive their fuel shipment last month because of a storm. The fuel that would have been delivered, would have sustained the community through the winter. Without it, Nome will surely see huge price hikes as fuel will need to be flown in to meet the community's energy needs.
Flying in fuel could increase the cost of gas, which is currently $5.98 a gallon, could jump as high as $9 if another alternative is not found.
On Thursday, Senator Mark Begich sent a letter to the Coast Guard Commandant, Admiral Robert Papp Jr on Thursday apprising him of Nome’s situation and asking why the Coast Guard can’t come to the aid of Nome when it does so for other communities with similar needs. He said, “This pending fuel shortage in rural Alaska highlights the lack of Coast Guard icebreaking capability in the state. Elsewhere in our nation, the Coast Guard frequently operates icebreakers and icebreaking tugs to keep waterways open and to allow for delivery of fuel and other critical commodities,” he continued by pointing out that, “During the frigid January of 2011, the Coast Guard exercised its icebreaking capability in Chesapeake Bay to keep fuel deliveries moving in Maryland. If the Coast Guard delivers this service in the Lower 48, why can’t it do so in our northernmost state?”
Senator Murkowski followed suit on Friday and sent a letter to the Admiral. In it, she expressed her support for the Coast Guard and commended them for their heroic work in the face of last month’s storm and urged them give one last contribution to Alaska this season. She wrote in the letter, “It has come to my attention that the CGC Healy has entered Nome on a return port call and in doing so has broken a course through the ice for marine traffic. While I am sure the officers and crew of the CGC Healy are anxious to return home to Seattle, I ask that you use the CGC Healy and other assets available to assist the people of western Alaska with any fuel or supply shortages they face, if possible.”
Presently, the nation’s only working ice-breaker, the Cutter Healy is a short distance off-shore from Nome, where they had carried out a personnel transfers on Thursday. The 420-foot vessel is currently conducting their assigned missions in the region and are due to depart Alaskan waters to its homeport in Seattle in the coming weeks.
The Coast Guard Commander in Juneau reported that they were working to find a solution to the fuel crisis. “We are going to work closely with the city, state and our industry partners to explore all options to help the people of Nome,” said Rear Adm. Thomas P. Ostebo, commander, Coast Guard District 17. “We understand how critical the fuel is to ensuring they can sustain their way of life through the winter.”
With the aid of the Coast Guard, hopefully, the community of Nome will celebrate the Christmas Holidays without fears of lack of fuel and higher fuel prices this winter.