Alaska News Nightly: August 15, 2007

A court ruled today that Shell Oil will have to further postpone its plans for exploratory drilling in the Beaufort Sea. Plus, Pavlof Volcano on the Alaska Peninsula is erupting for the first time in more than a decade. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Federal court postpones Shell’s Beaufort Sea drilling plans
David Shurtleff, APRN – Anchorage
A federal court this morning upheld an injunction blocking Shell Oil from exploring for gas and oil in the Arctic Ocean. The drilling plan was initially halted in July after several conservation groups, as well as the North Slope Borough and the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission, filed a joint lawsuit.

Pavlof volcano erupts on Aleutian chain southwest of Kodiak
Johanna Eurich, KDLG – Dillingham
The Pavlof Volcano near Cold Bay on the Alaska Peninsula is erupting. Pilots confirmed black ash on the summit indicating a small-scale eruption. The Alaska Volcano Observatory upgraded its status to code Orange this morning from yesterday’s code yellow. Pavlov has a long and interesting history of volcanic activity.

Federal energy regulators growing optimistic about Alaska gasline
Joel Southern, APRN – Washington, D.C.
A new federal government progress report on the Alaska natural gas line — the first since Governor Palin’s Alaska Gasline Inducement Act (AGIA) became law in May — came out today. And in it, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has a more optimistic tone than before on the prospect of getting a project built.

Juneau police officer cleared in deadly force incident
John Ryan, KTOO – Juneau
The attorney general’s office and Juneau Police both say Sergeant Paul Hatch was justified in using deadly force against a samurai-sword-wielding man in Juneau Friday night.

U.S. Fish & Wildlife investigating possible illegal walrus hunting near Nome
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
Nearly 80 headless walrus carcasses have washed up on beaches east of Nome this summer. U.S. Fish and Wildlife officials are investigating the incident.

Bethel cab drivers raising fares for the first time since early 2001
Shane Iverson, KYUK – Bethel
Taxi fares in Bethel are rising for the first time in six years. Cab fares are regulated by the City and for about a year the cab industry has been pushing the Bethel City Council to raise them. At their last meeting, the council approved a plan that will allow cabbies to charge an additional dollar for most trips.

Political candidates scrambling to meet new financial disclosure requirements
Libby Casey, KUAC – Fairbanks
The state’s new financial disclosure rules are getting their first test as candidates sign up to run for municipal offices across Alaska. The 11-page disclosure form may be daunting to some, and the Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) didn’t have time this summer to create an instruction booklet explaining it. The disclosure rules are part of the new ethics law signed by Governor Palin last month. Now candidates for local offices all around the state are scrambling to fill out the paperwork — except in Anchorage, which has its regional elections in the spring.

Homer’s hospital expansion complete, but opening may be delayed
Mike Mason, KBBI – Homer
The latest expansion project at South Peninsula Hospital in Homer is complete, but plans to open the new part of the hospital to the public next month could be put on hold.

Sitka seiner loses $170,000 of herring in 28 seconds
Robert Woolsey, KCAW – Sitka
A Sitka herring seiner who was 28 seconds late closing his net during a 2004 opener has lost his appeal — and his $170,000 catch. The Alaska Court of Appeals has affirmed a District Court decision last year which found fisherman Troy Denkinger guilty of illegally retaining herring.