Alaska News Nightly: August 1, 2008

The state Senate votes to approve Governor Palin’s plan to license TransCanada to build the gasline. At the same time, the legislature chooses a special counsel to investigate the governor’s firing of former Public Safety Commissioner, Walt Monegan . Plus, a Federal judge rules in favor of language assistance for Yup’ik voters. And this year’s PFD will be the biggest ever. Those stories and more tonight on Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Senate approves bill to license TransCanada

Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
TransCanada will develop a natural gas pipeline to North American markets.  The Senate today approved the bill authorizing the Palin administration to sign the license awarded under the terms the legislature passed last year.

Legislature chooses special counsel to investigate Monegan firing

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
A retired Alaska prosecutor has been chosen as special counsel to investigate the firing of former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan. Steve Branchflower is a former prosecutor with the Anchorage District Attorney’s office. Branchflower also investigated Medicaid fraud and was the first head of the office of Victims rights.

Congress adjourns with ANWR supporters crying in the wilderness

Libby Casey, APRN – Washington, DC
Congress has left the U-S Capitol for the August recess – except for a handful of Republicans who spent Friday afternoon talking to an empty House chamber about energy issues, including opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil development.

Don Young wants to tap the Tongass to fund education

Ed Schoenfeld, CoastALaska – Juneau
Congressman Don Young wants Alaska to take over timber-rich lands in Southeast’s Tongass National Forest from the federal government. He’s authored  egislation allowing the state to select almost 2 million acres of Forest Service property. Proceeds from timber sales would help fund the region’s schools.

Flooding still causing problems near Fairbanks

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The Chena Flood Control Project was activated this morning to divert high water on the Chena River from flooding Fairbanks.  Project Manager John Schoke  says dam gates were partially closed this morning.

Federal judge rules in favor of language assistance for Yup’ik voters

Shane Iverson, KYUK – Bethel
A federal judge has ruled that the State of Alaska must provide comprehensive language assistance to Yup’ik voters. The ruling is part of a lawsuit filed against the State by Yup’ik Elders and Tribes. It mandates that the state must set up translations in time for the primary elections this month.

PFD expected to reach record high

John Hunt, KHNS – Haines
Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend checks will be soaring to their largest amount ever this year.

Fish and Game uses Fortress of the Bear for to solve research problem

Andi McDaniel, KCAW – Sitka
It’s been a year since Fortress of the Bear invited two orphaned bear cubs into the enormous cement tank it has adapted into a wildlife exhibit. Recently, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game utilized the Fortress cubs to help solve a field research dilemma.