Environmental safeguards need to remain in place

The Escopeta Oil & Gas Company made headline news when it flouted federal law in its effort to bring a jack-up drilling rig to Cook Inlet. With recent news Escopeta's drill rig got "stuck" drilling for oil in Upper Cook Inlet, it's increasingly clear we're rolling the dice on worker safety and fisheries protection. Cook Inlet has witnessed responsible exploration in the past (for example, ConocoPhillips and Pioneer Natural Resources drilled responsibly on tracts off Anchor Point in the past decade). But Escopeta is chasing a $25 million tax break created by politicians to prompt more drilling in Cook Inlet, and as a result, its rush to drill has already resulted in numerous violations and unsafe practices. A recent tour by state regulators found significant  oversight and operational concerns on Escopeta's jack-up rig. The Director of the State's Division of Oil & Gas went so far as to say "I am gravely concerned about what I perceive to be Escopeta's apparent disregard for regulatory requirements." As Governor Parnell pushes through yet another wave of health and safety rollbacks under the false banner of "reform," the fisheries of Cook Inlet -- and the families who rely on them -- need reasonable safeguards to ensure Escopeta doesn't repeat the disaster BP created in the Gulf of Mexico.  

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