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Politics

Murkowski leads congressional trip to hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands

  • Author: Erica Martinson
  • Updated: November 7, 2017
  • Published November 7, 2017

The congressional delegation views hurricane damage in Puerto Rico. (Photo courtesy office of Sen. Lisa Murkowski)

WASHINGTON — Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski joined a bipartisan coalition in a visit to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands over the weekend to assess recovery from extreme hurricane damage.

Murkowski chairs the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and thus has some oversight over efforts to repair the felled electrical grid in Puerto Rico.

Her spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment about a now-canceled $300 million contract to repair the grid, made with a small Montana firm that has close ties to Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.

"I've seen my share of disasters, but the reality on the ground is extraordinary," Murkowski said in a statement Tuesday. "Everywhere we went, we saw devastation."

The group visited the San Juan Children's Hospital in Puerto Rico, where the Tesla company restored power using solar and battery power. The politicians also toured a power plant, a field office and a heavily damaged mountain area in the territory.

Murkowski and the congressional delegation visited damaged neighborhoods and the Schneider Medical Center in St. Thomas, U.S Virgin Islands, according to the committee.

Murkowski joined Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-La.; Al Franken, D-Minn.; Tom Carper, D-Del.; and Kamala Harris, D-Calif., as well as House Reps. Bill Shuster, R-Penn.; Garrett Graves, R-La.; and Peter DeFazio, D-Ore.

"We must work together to not only restore power in the short term, but also find a workable, long-term solution to help the islands move forward with a more resilient and reliable energy grid that can withstand severe hurricanes," Murkowski said in a statement.

She plans to hold an Energy Committee hearing next week to examine recovery efforts on the island.

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