Alaska News Nightly: August 3, 2007

The Palin administration says the state’s new oil tax isn’t meeting revenue expectations or expanding participation in the oil industry. Lawmakers will recosider the tax in October. Plus, a national journalist takes a critical look at the coal industry’s plans in Alaska. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Governor Palin calls for special October session on petroleum tax
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Governor Palin today said she will call a special legislative session beginning October 18th to deal with changes to the oil and gas tax that went into effect last year.

Could Minneapolis-style collapses affect Alaska’s spans?
Rosemarie Alexander, KTOO – Juneau
Yesterday the Federal Highway Administration advised state transportation departments to begin conducting inspections of bridges similar to the collapsed Interstate 35-W bridge in Minneapolis. As Minnesota rescue workers continue to pore through the twisted wreckage of steel and concrete, drivers also are wondering about the safety of highway structures they use every day.

Two Fort Richardson paratroopers die in Iraq
The Associated Press
The Army says two Fort Richardson paratroopers were killed Tuesday in Iraq. They were assigned to the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division. The Army says they were hit in an indirect fire attack. Their next of kin have been notified. The deaths bring the number of 4th Brigade Combat soldiers killed to 48 since the unit deployed to Iraq last fall. Ten other paratroopers were injured in the incident, including one seriously.

River current to drive electric current in Eagle
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Eagle is getting Alaska’s first in river turbine generator. The Denali Commission recently granted the Yukon River community’s electric provider $1.6 million for the pilot project. The plan is to swap the community’s current dependency on diesel generation for hydro power. Bob Grim with Alaska Power and Telephone, says the funding will realize more than a decade of efforts at Eagle to find a way to tap the current of the Yukon.

Alaska coal development fighting uphill battle against national fossil fuel sentiments
Ellen Lockyer, APRN – Matanuska-Susitna Borough
Journalist Jeff Goodell is in the state this week to promote his book, Big Coal, an indictment of the coal industry. Alaska ranks high among the states in coal potential and proposed coal projects are springing up from Chickaloon to Chuitna. But a growing backlash against coal development is gaining momentum and may dampen the state’s coal revival.

Rocky swinging for Stevens in Senate prize fight
Charles Homans, KIAL
It’s safe to say that the past week hasn’t been that great for Senator Ted Stevens. But it has been a good one for Rocky Caldero, the only Democrat who has officially declared his intentions to run against Stevens next year.

Fairbanks bears back in trouble
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
There’s been more bear trouble in Fairbanks. The Department of Fish and Game responded to a pair of grizzlies that had turned up in a neighborhood on Chena Hot Springs Road yesterday. Department spokeswoman Cathie Harms says from descriptions, it appears the bears are young siblings separated from their mother.

Mmmm… bumper crop of early Interior berries
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
It’s shaping up to be a good year for berries in the interior. University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Office home economist Roxy Dinstall says she’s had reports in from across the area indicating a better than average blueberry crop. She says this summer’s mix of weather has accelerated the crop.

Sealaska working to bring a few thousand more shareholders into the corporation
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
Several thousand people have already applied to become shareholders in Southeast Alaska’s regional Native corporation. Sealaska stockholders voted this summer to allow qualified descendants to join up. But most will undergo a lengthy process before they can vote or earn dividends.

Youth media and environmental groups team up
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
The Alaska Youth for Environmental Action (AYEA) is joining forces with the Alaska Teen Media Institute (ATMI) to collaborate on a multimedia project called Telling Our Stories. The project is part of AYEA’s annual summer institute for youth that seeks to educate and empower young people about environmental conservation, recycling and energy policy. Thirty students from 15 villages and cities across Alaska are in Anchorage putting the finishing touches on their media presentations that will be included in a performance at Out North Theater in Anchorage.