Alaska News Nightly: June 16, 2008

BP and ConocoPhillips took the first official step today toward federal approval for their proposed gas line project. Plus, searchers in Denali National Park ramped up efforts today to find two missing backpackers. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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BP and ConocoPhillips request FERC gasline approval
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
BP and ConocoPhillips today formally requested federal approval to begin the regulatory process that could lead to a gas pipeline from the North Slope to markets in the lower-forty eight. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has not yet acted on the application to pre-file.

Search intensifies for missing Denali hikers
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The effort to find 2 hikers missing in Denali National Park intensified today. Sixty people are involved in the search for Abby Flantz of Minnesota and Erica Nelson of Nevada. The pair left last Thursday for what was supposed to be on an overnight backpacking trip in the Park’s Savage River area.

Juneau utility approved for loan to repair avalanche-damaged lines
Rosemarie Alexander, KTOO – Juneu
The Board of Directors for the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority has approved a loan to Juneau’s utility company for the repair of Snettisham transmission lines and towers destroyed in April by avalanches.

Supreme Court still not ready for Exxon Valdez ruling
Emily Schwing, KBBI – Homer
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on a number of cases today, but there’s still no decision regarding the 1989 Exxon Valdez Oil Spill in Prince William Sound. For months now, residents of spill-affected communities have eagerly awaited the court’s decision on whether to uphold billions of dollars of punitive damages that Exxon must pay. Now, a Sociology Professor says he has a study which shows that spill litigation may be responsible for unusually high psychological stress levels in one of the towns hit hardest by the spill.

Homer Electric Association moves to restart Healy coal plant
Mike Mason, KBBI – Homer
Homer Electric Association has made public a proposal to move forward with restarting the Healy clean coal plant that has sat idle since 2000.

Tobacco use in Alaska down 20% since 1996
Eli Menaker, APRN – Anchorage
Alaska tobacco use has dropped considerably according to a study released today by the Alaska Tobacco Prevention and Control Program.

Fairbanks Catholic Diocese begins sexual abuse settlement process
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The Fairbanks Catholic Diocese is beginning a massive outreach effort as it moves forward with the settlement of sexual abuse claims against it.

Weak run of Yukon Kings expected
Tim Bidony, KIYU – Galena
Fishery managers on the Yukon River expect another weaker than normal king salmon run this year. Because of this, the department of Fish and Game has altered its management strategy for commercial fishing for Yukon kings this year.

Chinook runs slow in Southeast Alaska
Joe Viechnicki, KFSK – Petersburg
Catches of King salmon in Southeast’s Gillnet and troll fisheries are down from last year. After some shortened openings, gillnetters in central southeast are starting to switch their focus away from this spring’s run of Stikine river king salmon. Meanwhile, the spring troll fisheries targeting hatchery kings are down as well.