Alaska News Nightly: February 3, 2009

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Alaska lawmakers grapple over stimulus package
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
As the U-S Senate forges into a large file of amendments to the economic stimulus bill this week,  the state legislature opened debate today on resolutions that will give a statewide view of Alaska’s issues.  About a Billion dollars is expected to be directed at the state’s economy.

Native leaders fight for their piece of the stimulus package pie

Libby Casey, APRN – Washington, DC
As the U-S Senate debates the economic stimulus bill this week, groups from all over the country are clamoring to see their priorities included.  Native American and Alaska Native leaders are making sure tribes have a piece of the stimulus pie.  At this point, nearly $3 billion of the more than $800 billion package would go to Indian Country.

Governor sends budget amendments to the legislature
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
The Palin administration is asking the legislature to make some changes to the budget that was approved last year. While much of the Supplemental Budget introduced today will affect tax credits for the state’s oil producers,  some programs and people will also feel the effects.  The bottom line of the new plan cuts $268 million from last year’s operating and capital budgets.

Sociologist Steve Picou paints a grim picture of future catastrophes
Steve Heimel, APRN – Anchorage
Alabama Sociologist Steve Picou made his reputation studying the social impacts of the 1989 Exxon-Valdez oil spill.  Then Hurricane Katrina hit in his own back yard. Today he warned people at the Alaska Forum on the Environment that these events are just a taste of the catastrophes to come.

Alaska gets its first large scale wood-pellet plant

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
A new Alaska company, Superior Pellet Fuels, plans to build the facility in North Pole this summer. The company will process local waste wood from forest clearing projects and saw mills into a dry, clean burning fuel for pellet stoves and boilers.  Company Manager Chad Schumacher says at current prices, pellets are an economical heating fuel.

Slow pollock season affects more than fishermen

Anne Hillman, KUCB – Unalaska
The Bering Sea pollock fishery officially opened on January 20 but two weeks later, most of the fleet hasn’t left the port.

State distributes $10 million in cruise-ship fees to southeast communities
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
The state is sending close to $10 million cruise-ship passenger fees to about a dozen coastal Alaska communities. State tax official Johanna Bales says all communities should receive their payments by this week. They range from $3,000 for Homer to $4 million for Homer to Skagway. She says amounts are based on the number of passengers visiting each qualifying port.

Looking for a solution on the Ruth Lake hydro-power project
Matt Lichetenstein, KFSK – Petersburg
Petersburg and Wrangell’s political fight over new hydro-power development at Ruth lake near Petersburg came up at a meeting of the Thomas Bay power authority last week. The authority is made up of representatives from both towns which have cooperated for decades to manage the existing hydro-plant they share at Tyee lake near Wrangell.