Alaska News Nightly: June 11, 2008

Cordova residents argue for stronger oil spill protections for the Copper River Watershed. Plus, a new study highlights an achievement gap between Alaska Native and white students in the Anchorage School District. 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.

Alaska Interior mayors gather to demand state’s help with energy costs
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Local mayors will lead a rally in Fairbanks tomorrow to draw attention to the energy crisis in the interior. The rally is timed to target state legislators who will be in town for gas pipeline hearings. Borough Mayor Jim Whitaker says the community needs to make clear to legislators the severity of the local energy situation.

Pipeline operators on trial over oil spill risk in Copper River watershed
Amy Bracken, KCHU – Anchorage
As hundreds of Cordovans count the days before the Supreme Court issues their decision on the decades-long Exxon litigation, a few are putting Big Oil on trial to try to prevent another spill — not in the Sound but in the Copper River.

Should the state build roads to connect with Western Alaska?
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The State is looking into western Alaska road access. The Department of Transportation (DOT) is seeking proposals for a feasibility study of routes to connect the interior highway system with bush communities to the west. DOT Northern Region chief of planning Jerry Raphson says no specific development project is driving the effort.

Only 55% of Anchorage’s Alaska Native 9th graders likely to graduate
Jennifer Canfield, KNBA – Anchorage
The Anchorage School District has released its first report that details the percentage of ninth grade students who are on track to graduate. Overall, 76% of ninth graders in the district meet the criteria. But the report shows Alaska Native freshman are fairing far worse than their Asian and white counterparts.

Petersburg school budget thrown into disarray by Congressional (in)action
Joe Viechnicki, KFSK – Petersburg
Members of Petersburg’s city council are bracing for the possible loss of $1 million in annual federal funding. Congress has failed to renew or extend the Secure Rural School Act, which provides money for schools and road improvements to counties and communities near national forest land, including Petersburg.

NOAA proposes national registry for anglers and spearfishermen
Emily Schwing, KBBI – Homer
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) introduced a new proposed requirement for recreational fisherman today. Beginning in 2009, anglers who fish in federal salt waters may have to file their information annually in a National Fisheries Service registry.

Anchorage to expand curbside recycling and related services
Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage
Last night, by a nearly unanimous vote, the Anchorage Assembly approved a recycling initiatives ordinance that proponents called a major advance for the municipality.