Alaska News Nightly: February 11, 2008

The U.S. may be able to claim rights to more of the continental shelf off Alaska according to a new study released today. Plus, state lawmakers disagree over how much more money to give schools across the state next year. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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New study expands Alaska’s continental shelf
Joel Southern, APRN – Washington, DC
Sonar data from an Arctic mapping mission aboard the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Healy this past summer suggests the continental shelf off Alaska might extend farther out than previously thought. The new information was released today by the Joint Hydrographic Center, a partnership of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the University of New Hampshire.

Coast Guard looks ahead to larger arctic role as ice recedes
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
The Head of the Coast Guard in Alaska spoke today about the challenges the agency faces in the arctic in the next 10 to 20 years. Admiral Gene Brooks called the arctic a “large oceanic frontier” at the Alaska Forum on the Environment in Anchorage. He said the Coast Guard’s involvement in the arctic until now has been “episodic and thin,” but the rapidly melting ice will change that.

Conservation group warning fishing industry of ocean acidification impacts
Matt Lichtenstein, KFSK – Petersburg
A statewide group of conservation-minded fishermen is calling on the industry to take action against ocean acidification. The Alaska Marine Conservation Council has been visiting fishing communities around the state to raise awareness about the potential impact on Alaska’s fisheries.

State spending on schools aiming for $100/student-year increase
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
The House Majority is holding on to a bill that would change the way the state’s public schools are funded until members can come to terms on spending this session. The bill is the result of the Education Task Force meetings last summer. It provides a multi-year approach to balancing the needs of rural and urban schools — while providing for consistent funding increases for all schools. The House Finance Committee passed it last week, but Rules Chairman John Coghill this morning said he’s holding it to help control the size of all the budgets that are still pending.

House may ask parole board to serve longer sentences
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
The Alaska House today also held a bill that would extend the life of the state pardon and parole board. The bill calls for extending the authority of the panel, which deals with prisoner sentencing. It would be approved for another 8 years as currently written.

Alaska 211

“Get the 211” on health and social service options
Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage
We all know in case of a life-threatening emergency to call 911. But what about an “information emergency?” Well, as of today, the “official” number to call in that case is 211 — at least in most of Alaska.

Rookie Anderson leads the Quest; Rookie Smidt removed from the race
Libby Casey and Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Fairbanks rookie Ken Anderson leapt into the lead in the Yukon Quest. Anderson left the Yukon River checkpoint of Circle at 12:55 p.m. today, stopping his team for just a half hour, long enough to gather supplies. He was followed out of Circle one minute later by returning champion Lance Mackey who had parked his team there for 4.5 hours. Meanwhile, Wisconsin rookie Don Smidt was removed from the race for failing to effectively care for his dogs on the trail.

Yukon-Kuskokwim Guardsmen return to warm welcome in the delta
Shane Iverson, KYUK – Bethel
Alaska National Guardsmen from the Yukon-Kuskokwim delta were honored and officially welcomed home by the United States Army, military support organizations and Yup’ik elders at a ceremony in Bethel this weekend. The Guardsmen were part of the Alaska National Guard’s 3rd Battalion, 297th Infantry, sent to serve in Iraq.