Alaska News Nightly: January 14, 2009

The judge in the Ted Stevens case has released more information about the FBI agent who wrote a lengthy complaint about how Alaska’s corruption investigation has been handled. Plus, the state is planning to sue over the Endangered Species Act listing for the Cook Inlet Beluga.

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FBI whistle-blower named in ongoing Stevens case
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington, DC
An FBI whistle-blower who criticized a fellow agent working on the Alaska corruption investigation has been identified. The name of Anchorage-based agent Chad Joy was revealed today in federal court in Washington, DC. His identity came out during a hearing in the case of former Senator Ted Stevens.

ANWR may get new environmental protections in newly-Democratic DC
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington, DC
A renewed effort to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) from development is being met with excitement from environmental groups who hope they will find more allies in the Democrat-controlled Congress and the incoming Obama administration.

50 megawatts on the way from restarted Healy coal power plant
Steve Heimel, APRN – Anchorage
There is a deal to restart the experimental coal-fired power plant in Healy. The agreement was announced today following a flurry of activity by the boards of two of the state’s power utilities and the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority (AIDEA).

Congress expanding low income children’s health insurance program
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington, DC / Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
The U.S. House of Representatives voted to reauthorize and significantly expand a federal program that provides medial insurance to lower-income children. The House passed the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (S-CHIP) on a vote of 289 to 139.

Alaska will sue U.S. for listing Cook Inlet Beluga as Endangered
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
The state of Alaska has given notice it will sue the federal government over the Endangered Species Act listing for the Cook Inlet Beluga whale. The whale was listed as endangered last fall, after biologists determined the population was at high risk of extinction.

Winter ‘heatwave’ hits Alaska following weeks of bitterly cold temps
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Much of Alaska has seen a dramatic shift in temperature, with the mercury rising rapidly in the last couple of days. And nowhere has it been more dramatic than in interior Alaska. National Weather Service meteorologist Don Aycock in Fairbanks says the minus fifty readings have given way to temperatures well above freezing at some locations today.

Anchorage announces estimated $17 million budget shortfall
Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage
The nation’s economic turmoil has “officially” hit the Municipality of Anchorage. Yesterday the city’s new mayor announced the municipal budget has a multi-million dollar shortfall.

Homer’s famous ‘Eagle Lady’ dies at 85
Casey Kelly, KBBI – Homer
Homer’s “Eagle Lady” has died. Jean Keene fed hundreds of bald eagles every winter from her home on the Homer Spit, drawing tourists and wildlife photographers from around the world. She died at home Tuesday night at the age of 85.