Alaska News Nightly: January 16, 2009

The State releases a new blueprint  to help communities across Alaska find cheaper and more efficient sources of energy. Plus, donations from across Alaska and the lower 48 flood into Emmonak.   Also, the judge in the Ted Stevens trial takes the Justice Department to task.  And the Bush Administration floats a new plan for expanding offshore oil and gas leasing.

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Green, baby, green
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
The State released a new blueprint today to help communities across Alaska come up with cheaper and more efficient sources of energy. In announcing the plan, Governor Sarah Palin included a push for an instate gas line, but the document is mainly focused on finding greener solutions to control energy costs.

North Slope villages rally to help Emmonak
Janelle Everett, KBRW – Barrow
Villages on the north slope are stepping up to help out residents of Emmonak, the Southwest Alaska village that put out an urgent call for assistance earlier this week.

Donations to Emmonak flood in from around the country
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Emmonak residents have received the first of those shipments. 300 pounds of food arrived today. Nicolas Tucker Senior, the Emmonak resident who wrote the January 12th letter asking for help for the community says things are moving along quickly. Tucker says the village corporation, tribal council and city leadership have formed a committee to supervise and distribute the donations coming in and a village aid bank account has been established to handle cash donations. Tucker says goods are being shipped from churches in the lower 48.

State Senator Olson comments on situation in Emmonak
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Nome Democrat Donny Olson represents Emmonak in the state Senate. He says he’s familiar with the problems the people face throughout the region — and he regrets that the legislature cannot move quickly enough to give immediate relief to the community. But he says there’s no doubt people in that community as well as others are in trouble.

Sunken vessel in Cook Inlet difficult to locate
Casey Kelly, KMXT – Homer
Salvage operations began this morning for the 166-foot oil industry supply vessel Monarch, which sank yesterday beneath an offshore oil platform in the ice-choked waters of north Cook Inlet. The salvage vessel Champion and the Coast Guard cutter Hickory conducted sonar scans in the area adjacent to the Granite Point platform to determine the orientation and exact location of the Monarch. But Coast Guard spokeswoman Sara Francis says they could not find it.

The judge in the Ted Stevens trial takes the Justice Department to task

Libby Casey, APRN – Washington, DC
The judge who presided over the case of former Senator Ted Stevens is demanding that the Justice Department explain its recent actions.  Judge Emmet Sullivan is going to the highest level of accountability – asking US Attorney General Michael Mukasey to provide an account. The problems revolve around a whistle-blower complaint filed last month, and whether or not the Justice Department was honest with the court about the situation.

New plan floated for expanding offshore oil and gas leasing
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington, DC
The Interior Department has proposed a new plan for expanded off-shore oil and gas leasing – including in Alaska’s waters.  Even though the Bush Administration has only days left in power, officials claim the new plan will give the incoming Obama Administration “more options” to consider.  The Interior’s Mineral Management Services bureau is preparing a new five year program to run from 2010 to 2015.

Salazar pledges to “clean up” Interior Department

Libby Casey, APRN – Washington, DC
President-elect Barack Obama’s pick for Secretary of the Interior Department says he’ll restore integrity and bring back ethics to the department.  Colorado Democratic Senator Ken Salazar underwent questioning yesterday at his nomination hearing.  Salazar said he’ll clean up what he called the “mess” at the Interior Department

“Capitol creep” a hot topic in Juneau
Rosemarie Alexander, KTOO – Juneau
That issue was hotly debated yesterday at a Juneau Chamber of Commerce luncheon that was supposed to focus on the upcoming legislative session.But talk turned to finger pointing over the large number of jobs relocated out of the capitol city during the Palin Administration. Governor Palin says state workers should be where they can best serve the public.

Record warm temperatures replace the deep freeze
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Record high temperatures are being logged around the interior again, as warm air continues to funnel over much of the state. National Weather Service meteorologist Ted Fathauer in Fairbanks says current conditions are dramatically different from a week ago.