Alaska News Nightly: February 25, 2009

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Senators Murkowski and Begich weigh in on volcano monitoring
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington, DC
Alaska’s Senators, along with bloggers and columnists around the country, are criticizing a portion of the Republican response to President Obama’s speech last night. Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal included funding for volcano monitoring in a short list of stimulus projects he considers unworthy

Nome Hospital named a “shovel ready” project

Paul Korchin, KNOM – Nome
A new hospital in Nome will be one of the first “shovel ready” projects to benefit from the stimulus package. Senator Begich made the announcement yesterday. He says the hospital was one of two facilities in the country at the top of the Indian Health Services priority list.

Palin administration lays out plan for transportation infrastructure projects
Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage
The Palin administration today introduced legislation outlining the Department of Transportation’s plan for road and infrastructure projects funded by the federal stimulus package.  The bill includes $175.5 million for highways and roads in Alaska.  But the legislature will have some three hundred million dollars in projects that it can consider funding.

3 Alaska-based soldiers die in Iraq
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
The Department of Defense says three Alaska-based soldiers  have died in Iraq. The three died of wounds suffered Monday in Balad when insurgents attacked their unit using small arms fire. The dead include Michael Mayne of New York, Micheal Alleman of Utah and Zachary Nordmeyer of Indiana. All were assigned to the Stryker Brigade Combat Team at Fort Wainwright in Fairbanks.

Coast Guard rescues four men from grounded fishing vessel
Anne Hillman, KUCB – Unalaska
The Coast Guard rescued four men from a grounded fishing vessel in the Aleutian Islands this afternoon.

Oil companies urge congress to open coastal drilling
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington, DC
The heads of America’s most powerful oil companies urged Congress today to open up more of America’s coast to offshore drilling.  The Presidents of Exxon Mobil, BP America, Chevron, and Shell Oil testified before the House Natural Resources Committee in Washington.

Cost of bypass mail set to rise
Angela Denning-Barnes, KYUK – Bethel
Postal rates are increasing across the country on May 11.  It’s part of the postal services annual rate adjustments.  Last year, rates increased by about 12 percent. But this May, some Rural Alaskans will be paying over 50% more for large parcels.

Nikolski welcomes State’s change of heart over alternative energy project
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
The remote Aleutian Islands community of Nikolski is pleased with an apparent change of heart by the state of Alaska. The small island community has had a couple of rough years with notoriously bad weather hampering fuel deliveries resulting in enormous emergency delivery costs. Last year, the tribal council got federal funding to build a wind turbine to help offset diesel fuel expense. They also hoped to heat a greenhouse the community had built for growing fresh produce. But the Alaska Energy Authority refused to help pay the cost of changing the control panel that would connect the wind power to the diesel plant. A cost estimated at around $180,000. Tribal Administrator Tanya Kyle says now through the state’s renewable energy fund, they’ll be awarded more than $400,000.

Possible solution to cruise ship pollution compliance
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
Technology exists that could bring cruise ships into compliance with the state’s strict new pollution standards. But it hasn’t been tested on the ships yet. And it could be too costly – or large – for maritime use.