Alaska News Nightly: May 9, 2008

Oil production at Prudhoe Bay shut down temporarily, Plus, Juneau protesters demonstrate against sharp rise in power rates. Also, Karleen Jackson, Alaska Commissioner of Health and Social Services resigns. And Cordova’s annual shorebird festival gets underway. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Prudhoe Bay oil production halted
Associated Press & Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Oil production at Prudhoe Bay was halted today when a vehicle clearing snowdrifts damaged the power supply to processing centers. BP said production would be “way down” today and would ramp back up over the next several days. BP’s Northstar field also went off-line as a result of the power outage. Northstar produces about 79,000 barrels of crude daily from a man-made island in the Beaufort Sea.

Demonstrators protest sharp rise in Juneau power rates
John Ryan, KTOO – Juneau
More than 130 people protested the recent quadrupling of power prices in Juneau this afternoon on the steps of the state capital. In addition to seeking government relief, the Juneau People’s Power Project urged Juneau citizens not to pay the new rates. Rates spiked to 52 cents a kilowatt hour after avalanches knocked out the city’s main transmission lines last month.

Karleen Jackson, Alaska Commissioner of Health and Social Services resigns
Rosemarie Alexander, KTOO – Juneau
Jackson has been with the department since 2003, when she became deputy H & S-S commissioner in the Murkowski administration. She took over as commissioner in 2005 and was not replaced when Governor Palin took office last year. But Jackson says she recently compared notes with Palin and it was clear they had a difference of opinion. She says she offered her resignation and the governor accepted. Jackson declined to be more specific.

7 Alaska Governors honor state’s 50th anniversary of statehood
Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage
In what was a historic event, this afternoon seven of Alaska’s surviving governors came to the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center. They had gathered to begin signing a special, limited edition print designed to honor Alaska’s fiftieth anniversary as a state…and raise some money toward the celebrations.

Experts tell Senate committee climate modeling is essential
Joel Southern, APRN – Washington, DC
A panel of expertes at US Senate Commerce Committee hearing testified that climate modeling is important to understanding what’s causing global warming. But they also said models have flaws and shortcomings that need to be addressed to make climate predictions more reliable.

Congress asked to investigate Forest Service
Matt Lichtenstein, KFSK – Petersburg
A national watchdog group is asking Congress to investigate allegations that the US forest service retaliated against a whistleblower employee from Petersburg. An independent federal agency, which is now embroiled in its own controversy, dropped the case earlier this year after the employee died.

Southeast herring under scrutiny
Alec Dickenson, KRBD – Ketchikan
Researchers from the University of Portland are conducting a comprehensive study of Pacific Herring in Southeast Alaska.

Cordova annual shorebird festival gets underway
Amy Bracken, KCHU – Valdez
Birders from around the world are gathered in the community to observe the swarms of tiny fowl, and capture them on film. Meanwhile, the Prince William Sound Science Center has been out literally capturing the birds.

Summer sun a constant companion in Barrow – but where’s the ice cream?
Earl Finkler, KBRW – Barrow
Residents of Barrow will soon gain 24-hour daylight. Starting tomorrow, the sun will remain above the horizon for almost three months. The summer could have been even sweeter – with a new arctic themed flavor of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. But recently Barrow folks narrowly missed the opportunity to give it a try.