Alaska News Nightly: February 6, 2008

Environmentalists push for listing the walrus under the Endangered Species Act. Plus, the Secretary of the Interior justifies yesterday’s Chukchi lease sales. Meanwhile, State Senator Lesil McGuire faces an ethics investigation in the legislature and most of the state is locked in a deep freeze. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Environmentalists push for federal walrus safeguards
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
An environmental group is petitioning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to list Pacific Walrus under the Endangered Species Act. The Center for Biological Diversity filed the petition today. Shaye Wolf is a staff biologist with the group. She says Pacific Walrus are an early victim of global warming.

Interior Secretary justifies quick Chukchi lease sale
Joel Southern, APRN – Washington, DC
Today, Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne used the numbers from yesterday’s Chukchi Sea oil and gas lease sale as a justification for not delaying the sale until after he decides whether to list polar bears as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act.

Lesil McGuire to undergo ethics investigation
John Ryan, KTOO – Juneau
Senator Lesil McGuire is to be investigated by the Select Committee on Legislative Ethics for possible violations of lobbying laws and legislative standards of conduct. The Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC) this afternoon directed the ethics committee to look into McGuire’s contract with Providence Hospital in Anchorage in 2003, when she was a state representative.

Man who cried wolf on Alaska Airlines pleads guilty
David Shurtleff, APRN – Anchorage
The man who falsely claimed to have taken a bomb on board an Alaska Airlines flight last fall has pleaded guilty to a federal charge of threatening to destroy aircraft with an explosive. Kirk Frederick Forest of Wyoming changed his plea in federal court this morning, just 2 months after initially claiming he was not guilty.

Your papers, please
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
The January 31 deadline is over, but there’s still time to get your papers in order for traveling in the western hemisphere. The deadline worried some travelers; they were concerned if they didn’t have a passport, they wouldn’t be allowed to cross by land or water into Canada, Mexico or the U.S. But right now, that’s not the case.

Ferry governance bill navigating political waters
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
A bill making the state ferry system more independent is undergoing changes. But it still calls for major decisions to be made by a board of directors with more power than the current advisory panel. The ferry authority bill is expected to be released this week and gets its first hearing this month.

It’s friggin’ cold in Alaska’s Interior, but no records broken yet
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Cold temperatures are expected to stick around through the weekend, according to the National Weather Service. Lead forecaster Cary Freeman says yesterday’s big lows were in the Eastern Interior. Tok had a temperature of -70 F., Obrien Creek recorded a low of -67 F., Chicken saw -65 F., and Fort Yukon registered -60 F. It was -54 F. at the Eagle Airport. Freeman says even those low temperatures were about 10 degrees shy of record lows.

Tis the season for wearable art
Deanna Garrison, KRBD – Ketchikan
Ketchikan residents hit the runway last weekend, modeling creations for the community’s 22nd annual wearable art show.