Alaska News Nightly: April 24, 2008

A new report shows a remarkable jump in greenhouse gas totals in Earth’s atmosphere, raising fears of accelerated global warming. Meanwhile we cover energy stories from Juneau to rural Alaska as rising prices put everyone on edge. Plus, polar bears in Canadian coastal areas are becoming a hot topic for environmentalists whose interests collide with indigenous hunters. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

Individual news stories are posted in the Alaska News category and you can subscribe to APRN’s news feeds via e-mail, podcast and RSS.

Greenhouses gases rise sharply
Steve Heimel, APRN – Anchorage
There has been a sharp increase in atmospheric greenhouse gases. The Annual Greenhouse Gas Index report from a federal agency shows the concentration of both carbon dioxide and methane went up last year. Both gases trap heat in the atmosphere. For four years, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has been compiling measurements of the gases from all over the world.

Bill would provide impetus for alternative energy projects
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Record high costs for energy have many Alaskans watching a bill that unanimously passed the legislature this year. The bill would set up a state program to fund alternative energy projects around the state. It has been flagged for quick action to get it to the governor for her signature.

Energy crisis not just a Juneau story
Dixie Hutchinson, KNBA – Anchorage
As residents of Juneau brace themselves for a big spike in their monthly fuel expense, the sudden increase in power costs will mirror what rural Alaska residents are already paying. Juneau leaders are hoping the state will declare the area a disaster. One tribal leader is hoping that the same will be considered for rural Alaska.

Legislature expanded funding for homeowner weatherization programs
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Alaskans wanting to improve the energy efficiency of their homes can benefit from the expanded funding for Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC). The State legislature allocated $300 million for the AHFC homeowner weatherization assistance programs. That’s a dramatic increase over the $4 to $6 million the agency has received in recent years.

Stevens leads charge on inspections of seafood imports
Joel Southern, APRN – Washington, DC
In wake of concerns about carcinogens and contaminants in seafood produced in China and other countries, a bill to step up inspections of seafood imports moved through the US Senate Commerce Committee today. Senator Ted Stevens is a co-sponsor of the legislation. He says only a small fraction of imported seafood is inspected now.

First round of Park Service program only includes one Alaskan park
Joel Southern, APRN – Washington, DC
The first round of projects in the National Park Service’s Centennial Challenge program were announced today — but it includes only one project among Alaska’s parklands. The recipient is Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. The Park Service and the Propane Education and Resource Council are chipping in $125,000 each to put in a new power generation system at the Kennecott Mine National Historic Landmark, where deteriorating buildings are being stabilized.

Museum of the North catalogs 100,000 specimens
Emily Schwing, KUAC – Fairbanks
The University of Alaska’s Museum of the North in Fairbanks cataloged it’s 100,000th specimen recently. The museum’s collection includes everything from meadow voles to ringed seals.

Doyon names Norm Phillips as its new president
Libby Casey, KUAC – Fairbanks
The Interior Native Regional Corporation Doyon has named Norm Phillips as its new president and CEO. Phillips has worked at Doyon for more than 20 years in its Lands and Natural Resources Department. Phillips was born and raised in Fairbanks, and has family roots in Rampart and Fort Yukon.

WWF Canada calls for polar bear hunt moratorium
Patricia Bell, CBC – Whitehorse, YT
World Wildlife Fund Canada is calling for a moratorium on the polar bear hunt in Baffin Bay. The environmental activist group sent a letter to the Prime Minister calling on him to intervene.

Native Youth Olympics descends on Anchorage
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
The Native Youth Olympics are taking place in Anchorage this week. The games work to promote healthy lifestyles, an appreciation of Alaska Native traditions and sportsmanship. About 400 athletes representing nearly 50 communities are participating. This morning, athletes converged on the Sullivan arena floor and outnumbered onlookers.