Alaska News Nightly: November 23, 2009

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Alaska Senators Split Vote on Health Care Bill
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
Alaska’s -S Senators split their vote Saturday on whether to bring health care legislation to the floor.  Democrats got exactly the 60 votes needed with all party members lining up for it, and all Republicans voting against introducing it.

Halibut Operators Lose on One-A-Day Rule
Matt Lichenstein, KFSK – Petersburg
Halibut charter operators in southeast Alaska have lost an attempt to get rid of the one-halibut-a-day rule. The charter operators accused the secretary of Commerce, acting through the National Marine Fisheries Service, of failing to explain why the change from two fish to one fish was made, and if it was fair and legal. The new rule took effect in June.

Pro Pebble Group Wants to Join Suit
Adam Kane, KDLG – Dillingham
The pro Pebble Mine group – the Pebble Partnership – is asking to become a co-defendant in a case challenging the mine. If a judge grants the request, the Partnership would join the state Department of Natural Resources in defending a management plan that is tied to development of the Pebble project.

Cruise Ships Discharged More Pollution Summer
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
Cruise ships discharged more pollution into Alaska waters last summer. State reports show a 70 percent increase in violations from the previous season. But regulators, the industry and its critics say it’s a small figure compared to the overall number of samples tested.

North Pole to Hear More about Chemical Spill
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
A public meeting is being held in North Pole Monday night to update residents on a old chemical spill that’s tainted some local ground water.  The contamination is from an historic spill of a solvent called Sulfolane at the Flint Hills Oil Refinery. The chemical has been detected in one of 2 wells that feed the city’s public water system.

Alaska to Get New Boost from Federal Grants
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Eighty-seven communities in Alaska will get a budget boost from the federal government within the next week as the state mails out about $14 million in grants from the Government Services Fund.  The fund is part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act that was approved – first by Congress, and then by the legislature – earlier this year.

NOAA in Juneau Going Green
Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau
NOAA’s Juneau facilities are going green in an effort to reduce diesel fuel consumption by 75 percent. The maintenance staff is busy making mechanical modifications to buildings, installing pumps to extract heat from seawater, and putting up a mini-farm of wind turbines with a unique design.

Talkeetna Crews Rescue Abandoned Dogs
Diana Kaecker, KTNA – Talkeetna
Talkeetna emergency responders and the Mat-Su Borough animal control teamed up on Saturday to rescue 13 dogs, including six newborn puppies that were abandoned at a remote campsite near Talkeetna.