Alaska News Nightly: March 31, 2009

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Federal Government Files Suit Against BP
The U.S. government has filed a civil lawsuit against BP Exploration (Alaska), alleging violations of federal clean air and water laws. The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Anchorage.

Plan to Remove Oil from Tanks Near Mount Redoubt
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
Officials are working out a plan to remove oil from the tanks at the Drift River Oil facility, which is located in a precarious position below Redoubt Volcano. About six million gallons of crude is currently sitting in two tanks at the facility. Three other tanks on site are empty and cleaned.

Conservation Groups Sue to Protect Ribbon Seal
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
Conservation groups announced today they are planning to file a lawsuit to list the Ribbon Seal under the Endangered Species Act. Greenpeace and the Center for Biological Diversity hope their intent to sue will convince the new Obama Administration to grant federal protections to the Ribbon Seal. The Bush administration denied the species listing under the ESA in December, during its final days in office.

Health and Human Services Secretary nominee pledges to tackle Alaska’s Medicare problem
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington D.C.
President Obama’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services pledged today to work on the problems that Alaskan Medicare card-holders are having in getting doctors appointments. Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius underwent her first round of questioning by a Senate Committee this morning.

Research Will Look at Paradox in Yup’ik Health
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
A scientist with the Center for Alaska Native Health Research at the University of Alaska Fairbanks has been awarded 2.8 million dollars from the National Institute of Health to study why Yupik Eskimo people struggle with high rates of obesity but have lower incidences of type 2 diabetes than others.

Governor Meets with Lawmakers about Stimulus Funds
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
The top two legislative leaders met with Governor Sarah Palin today, catching up on their meeting that was canceled last week. House Speaker Mike Chenault and Senate President Gary Stevens were the only legislators present.

Lawmakers Tweak Cruise Ship Bill
Ed Schoenfeld, APRN – CoastAlaska
Stringent pollution-control standards will remain in law, under changes made last week to a bill altering Alaska’s cruise ship waste water rules. But environmental regulators will be allowed to bend the rules until new technology becomes available.

Alaskan Cross Country Skiers Race Well at Nationals
Dab Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The National Cross Country Ski Championships wrapped up in Fairbanks last weekend. As KUAC’s Dan Bross reports, the 4 race series culminated in long distance events that challenged North America’s best skiers with relentless terrain.