Alaska News Nightly: November 24, 2008

Plaintiffs in the Exxon Valdez oil spill case will begin receiving their payments shortly after Thanksgiving. Plus, Senator Lisa Murkowski looks ahead to her new role as ranking member of the Energy committee. Those stories and more tonight on Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Exxon Valdez claim payments starting within a week
Jay Barrett, KMXT – Kodiak
A federal judge in Anchorage today ordered the distribution of the first round of payments from the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill punitive damages case.

Bush administration working to set new Endangered Species rules before Obama takes office
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
The Department of the Interior is working to finalize a change to the Endangered Species Act. The Bush Administration has less than 30 days to complete the new rule and have it take effect by the time President-elect Barack Obama takes office.

Murkowski comments on Congressional priorities ahead
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington, DC
Congress is in recess after last week’s “lame duck” session. But for Senators and Representatives who will return to Congress in the new year, the next month will be a time to work out priorities.

House District 7 nail-biter may be decided tomorrow
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
A winner could be determined tomorrow in the state House District 7 race. Incumbent Republican Mike Kelly has a one-vote lead over Democratic challenger Karl Kassel.

Conviction of Sitka war protester upheld
Robert Woolsey, KCAW – Sitka
The Alaska Court of Appeals has upheld the conviction of a Sitka man arrested for an act of civil disobedience in Ted Stevens’ Anchorage office last year. Don Muller was charged in February 2007 with criminal trespass after he and several others entered the Senator’s office to read the names of the 3,200 U.S. service people and 6,000 Iraqi civilians known to have been killed up to that time during the war.

Fairbanks seeking tax revenue via bigger boundaries and/or sales tax
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Fairbanks City Mayor Terry Sterl wants to delay a proposed annexation. The city council is set to apply to the Local Boundary Commission to expand city limits to take in a Fred Meyer store on the west side of town to gather property taxes from the mega store.

Project for trucking liquified gas from North Slope pulled over
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The uncertain future of natural gas development in the state has stalled a Fairbanks company’s plan to truck the resource off the North Slope. Fairbanks Natural Gas has a supply contract with Exxon Mobil and plans for a liquefaction plant at Prudhoe Bay to supply Fairbanks by tanker truck.

Should the Kenai form its own fisheries committee?
Casey Kelly, KBBI – Homer
The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly is thinking about forming a fisheries committee to address the needs of commercial fishermen in the area. A handful of Borough fishermen addressed the assembly at last week’s regular meeting.

Prince of Wales – Ketchikan ferry ridership up in wake of fuel surcharge drop
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
More people are riding the Inter-Island Ferry Authority connecting Prince of Wales Island to Ketchikan. That’s in part due a drop in its fuel surcharge, which had driven tickets up by as much as 40%.