Alaska News Nightly: February 5, 2009

Individual news stories are posted in the Alaska News category and you can subscribe to APRN’s news feeds via e-mail, podcast and RSS.

Download Audio (MP3, 30 min)

Legislators grill Palin administration over supplemental budget cuts
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
The Palin administration today began explaining the effects of the proposed cuts to the current year’s budget. In her plan, more than $13 million in unspecified cuts will be left to the individual departments to find.  Senate Finance Co-Chair Lyman Hoffman told Revenue Commissioner Pat Galvin that in making reductions on its own,  the administration is taking the policy-making role away from lawmakers.

US Senate continues to grind on stimulus package

Libby Casey, APRN – Washington, DC
The US Senate is set to work late into the night on the $900 billion economic stimulus package that’s now on the floor.  The Democratic majority leader, Harry Reid of Nevada says he has enough votes for passage – but despite that claim, a bi-partisan group is working behind the scenes to cut spending and come up with a compromise.  They’re trying to reign in some of the bill’s expenses – and refocus it on major infrastructure projects.  Both of Alaska’s senators have been involved in the closed-door meetings.

State weatherization program reaping benefits

Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Alaskans are making good use of the state’s weatherization rebate program, and the results are beginning to show.  The program was put together and is being managed by the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation.  CEO Dan Fauske says that while the program originally restricted who could participate,  he is seeing incredible results since it was opened up to all Alaskans.

New bill would restrict alcohol in damp communities

Angela Denning-Barnes, KYUK – Bethel
Some Rural residents could be restricted to a lot less alcohol per month if bills in Juneau pass the Legislature. The bills deal with alcohol limits in Bethel, Kotzebue and the few other damp communities in the State – communities that do not have liquor stores, but are allowed to ship in a limited amount of alcohol.

Wrangell wants to release funds on Alaska-British Columbia intertie
Tony Gorman, KSTK- Wrangell
Wrangell is looking to release remaining funds towards the Alaska-British Columbia intertie.  The borough charged the Wrangell energy committee with coming up with a basic action plan to present at next week’s Alaska energy authority meeting.  Completion of the AK/BC intertie could lead to more hydroelectric power in southeast Alaska.

Competition over Hydro-electric project in Thomas Bay heats up

Joe Viechnicki, KFSK – Petersburg
The field of applicants seeking to pursue a hydro electric power plant in Thomas Bay north of Petersburg has grown. The city of Angoon has filed for preliminary federal permits for a hydro plant at Ruth lake and Scenery lake on the mainland north of Petersburg. Both the city of Wrangell and the city of Petersburg also applied for a federal energy regulatory commission preliminary permit for Ruth lake this week.

Fairbanks hoping to annex west side land

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The State has accepted a petition from the city of Fairbanks to annex acreage on the west side of town.  City mayor Terry Sterl says the Local Boundary Commission is moving forward on the proposal to absorb residential and commercial lots, including one occupied by a Fred Mayer store.

Grounded ferry spilled more fuel than originally thought

Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
Records show the ferry Lituya lost 2,000 gallons of fuel when it went aground near Metlakatla last month. A smaller sheen was spotted by environmental and recovery staff. But a later check of logs and tank soundings showed the larger amount missing.

Airline fees don’t drop with fuel prices

Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
Prices for petroleum products are down. But charges from businesses that use them seem to remain up. It’s certainly the case in the airline industry, including Alaska Airlines’ baggage fees.