Alaska News Nightly: August 23, 2007

Legal experts weigh in on whether the Supreme Court will agree to review the punitive damage judgment for the Exxon Valdez oil spill. Plus, the State’s transportation commissioner says the plan to build a bridge to Gravina island is impractical. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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ExxonMobil asks Supreme Court to review $2.5 billion penalty
Joel Southern, APRN – Washington, D.C.
Earlier this week, ExxonMobil filed a petition asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review the $2.5 billion punitive damage judgment in the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill case. After more than a decade of back-and-forth with the Federal District Court of Alaska, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals came up with that amount in a decision last year.

Will Alaska build the Gravina Island bridge? Not likely.
Deanna Garrison, KRBD – Ketchikan
The commissioner of transportation says he would like to build a bridge to gravina island, but that finding the funds for such a project is unlikely.

State heading out to inspect bridge near Denali Park
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The State will conduct a special inspection of a bridge that’s similar in design and age to the one that collapsed in Minneapolis. The 37-year old Nenana River Bridge at Moody, near Denali Park, is one of 6 deck truss bridges in Alaska. State Department of Transportation (DOT) chief bridge engineer Rich Pratt says Alaska’s five other deck truss bridges, on the Denali and Alaska Highways, the McCarthy Road and on logging roads near Icy Bay, have already been checked in recent months.

Governor’s ethics considered as husband goes back to work at BP
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
News that Governor Sarah Palin’s husband Todd is returning to his pre-election job on the North Slope has gotten some public attention in the last couple of days. But legislators are dismissing the possibility that the job presents a conflict of interest for the Governor.

BLM’s draft for 300,000 acres on North Slope draws environmental concerns
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
The Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) draft plan for the 300,000-acre northeastern portion of the National Petroleum Reserve Alaska (NPRA) is causing concern among conservation groups that say the plan only gives lip service to the problems that prompted a judge to halt a proposed lease sale in September 2006. The judge found the plan did not consider the cumulative impacts of development both on- and off-shore in the NPRA area and did not include impacts to human health.

Interview: Bruce Babbitt opposing oil and gas in Bristol Bay and leasing at Teshekpuk
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt was in Alaska this week to drum up opposition to the federal proposal for oil and gas drilling in Bristol Bay. But he also spoke out against the lease sale plan near Teshekpuk Lake.

Family of flightseeing passengers come to Sitka to mourn with the community
Melissa Marconi-Wentzel, KCAW – Sitka
It’s been two weeks since a New Jersey family died when their plane crashed in Sitka. Earlier this week Sitkans joined with two relatives of the victims to honor the dead and to give thanks for what was not lost.

Judy Richards remembers death of son and his unique life in Kennicott
Amy Bracken, KCHU – Valdez
A mother who lost her son in a Kennicott tragedy more than five years ago visited the town recently. Her presence stirred up both fond and painful memories for Kennicott residents.