Alaska News Nightly: January 3, 2008

The state’s LNG plant will remain open. Plus, a lease sale in the Chukchi Sea stirs debate, and Alaska turns 49 today. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Palin supports a plan to keep the state’s LNG plant running
David Shurtleff, APRN – Anchorage
The State of Alaska is supporting a plan that would continue the shipment of Cook Inlet natural gas to Asia for the next several years.

Rock Creek mine gets a vote of confidence from the courts
Paul Korchin, KNOM – Nome
A decision issued today by the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals means Vancouver-based NovaGold Resources is now one big step closer toward starting up its Rock Creek mine, just northwest of Nome.

Chukchi lease sale stirs controversy
Environmental groups are calling on Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne to postpone the Chukchi Sea lease sale scheduled for next month. The Minerals Management Service announced yesterday its holding the first oil and gas lease sale in the area since 1991. The decision comes just as the U-S Fish and Wildlife Service is preparing to announce whether the polar bear should listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

APU skiers excel at national championship
Annie Feidt, APRN -Anchorage
Skiers from Alaska Pacific University won both the men’s and women’s national championship classic races today in Houghton, Michigan. Kikkan Randall won the 10 kilometer women’s competition and Lars Flora took gold in the 15 kilometer men’s race.

Juneau to improve school lunches
John Ryan, KTOO – Juneau
The Juneau School District says it will take steps to improve its school lunch program. District officials sent their response earlier this week to a state review that found a variety of problems in record keeping, accounting, and nutritional quality of lunches. The review led the state department of education and early development to withhold 17 thousand dollars of federal funding from the school-lunch program.

Alaska turns 49
Joel Southern, APRN – Washington, DC
The 49th state celebrates its 49th birthday today

Fairbanks considers dropping IM program
Ben Markus, KUAC – Fairbanks
The state is accepting comment on the proposed phase out of the Fairbanks Borough’s vehicle Inspection and Maintenance program. The “I.M.” program was instituted in the 1980’s to force repair or removal of vehicles emitting high levels of carbon monoxide.

Bushby prepares to continue world trek
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
British adventurer Karl Bushby is back in Fairbanks preparing for the next leg in his 36,000 mile walk round the world.

Halibut catch limits to hit Homer charter fleet
Mike Mason, KBBI – Homer
The Homer-area sports halibut charter fleet is willing to take a part of the catch-limit hit the International Pacific Halibut Commissionis about to level on the Southeast fleet, due to a new way of assessing fish stocks.

University of Alaska considers Gmail
Ben Markus, KUAC – Fairbanks
Students and faculty tired of cleaning out their email inbox may soon get a reprieve. Following a trend set by Northwestern University and Arizona State, the University of Alaska is reviewing a plan to implement Google’s innovative online email service, Gmail.