Alaska News Nightly: March 17, 2009

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The State Shifts its Predator Control Program
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
State biologists are working from a helicopter to shoot wolves in the eastern interior. The action started over the weekend, and is aimed at bolstering moose and caribou numbers in a sprawling predator control area south of the Yukon River.

Alaska Senators Continue Push on ANWR Development
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington D.C.
Senator John McCain, who’s long been against drilling the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, said he’d be open to directional drilling there, if it proves it won’t leave a footprint on the environment. The Republican Senator from Arizona and former presidential candidate made his comments during a Senate Energy Committee hearing today.

Legislation Proposes New State Office Building in Juneau
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
A bill authorizing the financing for a new state office building along Juneau’s waterfront has passed its first legislative hurdle.The plan would permit the Mental Health Trust to begin work next year on a one hundred twenty thousand square foot, four story building to replace initially a building currently occupied by the Department of Labor.

Mackey Maintains Huge Iditarod Lead
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Lance Mackey is hours ahead of the rest of the field in this years Iditarod sled dog race. He left the Elim checkpoint at 11am this morning. His closest competitors, Sebastian Schnuelle and John Baker arrived at Elim two hours later. All of the mushers were battling low temperatures and fierce wind today. The leaders have usually reached the village of White Mountain by now, where there is a mandatory 8 hour layover. But Mackey isn’t expected into the checkpoint until sometime later this evening.

Iditarod Mushers Fight Brutal Weather
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
Mushers were worried about the wind and cold as they left the Unalakleet checkpoint yesterday.

Bypass Rate To Be Lower Than Expected
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington D.C.
Rural Alaskans will see an increase in the cost of the U.S. Postal Service bypass mail, but it won’t be as bad as expected. Prices will go up in May about 12 to 17 percent. That’s not as high as the 50 percent increases shippers and consumers feared, and the Postal Service had initially planned.

Donlin Creek Mine Developers Bring Plans to Aniak
Shane Iverson, KYUK – Bethel
Developers of the proposed Donlin Creek Gold Mine are rolling out their plan to residents on the Kuskokwim River. The Donlin Creek Company is on the brink of applying for the various permits they will need before they can begin constructing the mine.

Lawmakers Seek Permanent Rate Increases For Power Cost Equalization Program
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Two bills making permanent changes to the Power Cost Equalization program are in the House and Senate Finance Committees follow legislative action today.