Alaska News Nightly: June 4, 2008

State lawmakers got into the details of the proposed gas line today on the first full day of the special session. Plus, a new gallery featuring Alaskan artists opens in the 3-D virtual world of Second Life. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Rural Alaska utility co-op declares emergency over fuel prices
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
The Alaska Village Electric Cooperative (AVEC) is asking the state to consider an alternative to Governor Sarah Palin’s energy relief plan. AVEC President Meera Kohler says the organization passed a resolution declaring a fuel emergency. Kohler says their fuel expenses have tripled in the last five years.

Special legislative session opens, focused on North Slope gas
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Legislators opened a week of hearings at the capitol on a project to take natural gas from the North Slope to North American markets.

‘Alaska Ranger’ sinking report expected this week, propellers a major focus
Charles Homans, KIAL – Unalaska
Coast Guard and National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) investigators may wrap up their investigation into the sinking of the fishing trawler “Alaska Ranger” as early as Friday. The Marine Board of Investigation is hearing testimony this week in Boston, after which the board members will begin writing their report on the Easter morning disaster.

Climate change bill drawing amendments and Alaskan scrutiny
Joel Southern, APRN – Washington, DC
It was slow going with the Lieberman-Warner climate change bill in the U.S. Senate today. Bill sponsors had hoped to start dealing with amendments. But debate time didn’t start until early afternoon Eastern time. And when the bill was brought up, it contained revisions that Republican opponents hadn’t seen, so they demanded the whole thing be read word-for-word.

Pelican Seafoods caught by new owner
Weld Royal, KTOO – Juneau
Pelican Seafoods has a new owner. In late May, Kake Tribal Corporation sold the 60-year-old cold storage processing operation to Ed Bahrts and Associates, a regional seafood marketing company. It’s the fifth sale of the plant in 35 years. Officials and fisherman on the Northwest Chichagof Island community express optimism over the deal.

Alaska adds Channel Islands Marine Park to state system
John Ryan, KTOO – Juneau
Juneau has a new marine park. Governor Sarah Palin signed the Channel Islands Marine Park into law this morning. Her signature adds 14 islands near Juneau — totaling 7,700 acres of dry land — to the state’s system of marine parks.

Anchorage Schools raising school lunch prices, may be first of many
Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage
The Anchorage School District will likely be raising the price of its school lunches. And even a proposed $0.25 increase may not be enough to meet a predicted budget shortfall next year.

Salmon fry released by Unalaska community
Anne Hillman, KIAL – Unalaska
Students from Unalaska City School and volunteers released 6,500 coho salmon fry into the Iliuliuk River yesterday afternoon.

Rasmuson Foundation opens virtual art gallery in Second Life universe
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
The Rasmuson Foundation has a new gallery featuring Alaskan artists. But in the real world you won’t be able to check it out anytime soon. That’s because the gallery only exists in the 3-D virtual world called Second Life. The popular service allows residents — or avatars — to interact with each other, explore the space and create and trade property.