Alaska News Nightly: August 12, 2008

The US Supreme Court declines to rule on whether Exxon Mobil will have to pay interest on punitive damages over Exxon Valdez oil spill. Plus, a sharp rise in electricity bills causes shock in Bethel. Those stories and more tonight on Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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US Supreme Court declines to rule on Exxon Valdez punitive damage interest

Casey Kelly, KMXT – Kodiak
The US Supreme Court today (Tuesday) declined to rule on the issue of whether plaintiffs in the Exxon Valdez oil spill case should receive interest on top of their already reduced punitive damages from the 1989 spill that fouled thousands of miles of Alaska’s coastline from Prince William Sound to Kodiak and beyond.

Increase in electricity bills shock residents in Bethel

Angela Denning-Barnes, KYUK – Bethel
Bethel residents and local businesses are in shock at the increase in their electric bills this month. Most have doubled and some have gone even higher. With gas prices at $6 a gallon, residents are fearing for their futures.

Prosecutors argue Stevens trial should stay in DC
Libby Casey – APRN – Washington, DC
The prosecutors in the case against Senator Ted Stevens say his trial should not be moved to Alaska.  In documents filed yesterday in US District Court, the government made its case to keep the trial in Washington, D-C.  Alaska’s Senior Senator faces seven felony counts of lying on his financial disclosure statements about gifts he allegedly received from oil services company Veco.

Big week for search and rescue squads around the state

Bonnie Sue Hitchcock, KCAW – Sitka
The Sitka Mountain Rescue squad has had four missions in the last five days, the most recent was recovery of the victims from a plane crash on Sunday night. It’s a big week for missing aircraft in other parts of the state as well.

Early Yukon Quest entries promise competitive race

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The slate of early entries for next winter’s running of the Yukon Quest is already making for a competitive race.  22 teams signed
up this past Saturday to run the thousand mile international sled dog race.  Quest Canadian Director Stephen Reynolds says 13 veterans and 9 rookies took advantage of the early sign up opportunity. Reynolds says the field includes the Quest’s 4 time defending champion, as well as a 4 time Iditarod winner.

Bering-Sea shellfish may be in for a long journey

John Ryan, KTOO – Juneau
An ice-free Arctic will help shellfish as well as cargo ships travel across the top of the world. Clams and snails from the Bering Sea could even invade the North Atlantic. That’s according to a paper published last week in the journal Science.

No Ice Worms found in Denali

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
A group of  biologists searching for ice worms last week on the lower glaciers of Denali National park, came back empty handed. Dan Shane of Rutgers University led the quest with APU’s Roman Dial. On their ten day grueling expedition they traversed several glaciers, hiked over high passes, suffered crevasse falls and  bushwacked  through dense brush.

5,000 miles from Barrow

Earl Finkler, KBRW
After a five-week, five thousand mile road trip from Alaska to the midwest, former Barrow commentator Earl Finkler, his wife Chris and two panting Greenland Huskies Avu and Nuna reached their home in rural Medford, Wisconsin earlier this month.