Alaska News Nightly: October 29, 2009

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TransCanada Still Bullish on Alaska Gas
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington
TransCanada Corporation says despite the discovery of massive amounts of natural gas in shale in the Lower 48, it still sees an Alaska Gas Pipeline as a priority.

Parnell Remains Optimistic on Gas Line
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Governor Sean Parnell (R) says he’s still optimistic about the completion of a gas line from the North Slope to North American markets.  He said he’s been meeting with companies that could use the project – and he says he doesn’t see any reason for changing the statutory terms at this point.

Young Says Democrats’ Health Bill Too Expensive
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
Alaska’s Republican Congressman Don Young says the health care bill proposed by House Democrats on Thursday is expensive and won’t give Americans better health insurance.  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California unveiled Democrats’ 894 Billion dollar package on the steps of the US Capitol today.  It would expand Medicaid and includes a government insurance option.  The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said in a preliminary report that the bill would trim more than 100 billion dollars from projected budget deficits over the next decade.  But Representative Young says the price tag is too steep.

Federal Housing Officials Survey Homeless Challenge in Alaska
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
A federal housing authority official was in Alaska this week advocating for a unique approach to serving homeless inebriates that’s been successful in the lower 48.  Paul Carlson with the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness held sessions with state and local representatives in Anchorage and Fairbanks.

SE Alaska Could Foot Bill for Timber Survey in Tongass
Rosemarie Alexander, KTOO – Juneau
Southeast Alaska communities are being asked to foot the bill for a survey of second-growth timber in the Tongass National Forest. The Juneau Assembly got the ball rolling recently when it promised $10,000. The tree survey is estimated to cost $80,000 dollars.  It will help Southeast’s struggling timber industry make the transition from old growth to new.

Environmentalists to Sue Over Belugas
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
The Center for Biological Diversity is preparing to sue the federal government to force a critical habitat designation for the Cook Inlet Beluga. The whale is listed under the Endangered Species Act. The Center’s Brendan Cummings says by law, the National Marine Fisheries Service should have proposed critical habitat a year ago.

State Troopers Stumped by Cruise Ship Death
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
Alaska State Troopers say they can’t determine how a Washington state woman fell off a cruise ship near Juneau.

Cultural Education Should be Top Priority Says Native Group
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
Cultural education should be a top priority for young Alaskans, in and out of school. That’s the message from Tlingit, Haida and other education advocates at the Alaska Native Brotherhood and Sisterhood’s recent convention in Juneau.