Alaska News Nightly: December 4, 2009

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BP Combats Another North Slope Spill
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
There’s been another spill from a BP pipeline on the North Slope.  The State Department of Environmental Conservation reports that more than 7,000 gallons of oily water was released from a 34-inch pipeline at Prudhoe Bay.  The DEC report says most of the fluid was contained within a manifold building, but that about 2,000 gallons spread to a gravel pad, effecting about 3,000-square feet outside.  BP used a vacuum truck to pick up the oil and water mixture.  The company plans to employ jackhammers to break up and remove frozen product from the ground. The produced water system and affected well have been isolated.  The cause of the spill is under investigation.

Indian Health Care Bill Moves to Senate
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington
The US Senate Indian Affairs Committee approved reauthorizing the Indian Health Care Improvement Act on Thursday, sending the bill to the full Senate for consideration. The bill would permanently continue the Community Health Aid Program in Alaska.  It would also reauthorize the dental health aid program and would expand long-term services like assisted living and home care for elders.

Climate Conference Gets Underway Next Week In Copenhagen
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington
Next week the Climate change conference gathering gets under way in Copenhagen. The state of Alaska will send Larry Hartig, the Commissioner for the Department of Environmental Conservation. He was invited to give a talk on how Alaska is adapting to Climate change by the US State Department.

Iditarod Musher Sues to Get Money Back
Ellen Lockyer, APRN – Washington
Iditarod mushers are gearing up for next year’s race.  Seventy five dog drivers have signed for the 2010 trek to Nome, each paying an entry fee $4,000.  But one disgruntled Montana musher wants his money back and he has taken his case to the courts.

Mackey Will Train Jamaican Musher for Iditarod
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Dog sledding champ Lance Mackey says training Jamaican musher Newton Marshall will not interfere with his own racing ambitions. A four- time Quest and three-time Iditarod winner, Mackey has his sights high for the upcoming season.

Future of Butcher Institute Uncertain
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The University of Alaska Fairbanks is deemphasizing the Susan Butcher Institute. The institute named for the late dog mushing champion from Fairbanks was introduced in June 2008 to cultivate public service and leadership, but UAF cut support for it less than a year later. Butcher’s husband David Monson served as the institute’s director. Monson’s job officially ended last month.  He says it’s unclear if there’s any future for the institute.

Mystery Remains in Bering Sea
Anne Hillman, KUCB – Unalaska
A key member of the North Pacific and Bering Sea food chain remains a mystery to scientists.

Talkeetna Bachelors Raise Funds to Combat Domestic Violence
Diana Haecker, KTNA – Talkeetna
Talkeetna is often known as the little place at the end of the road that knows how to throw a party. This weekend will draw a crowd to the community for the annual Bachelor’s Auction, the Wilderness Woman Contest and other events. Not so well known is that the Bachelor Society puts Talkeetna’s bachelors on the block to raise funds to combat Domestic Violence.

Ethics Complaint Filed Against Palin
The Associated Press
A longtime critic of Sarah Palin has filed an ethics complaint alleging past aides of the former Alaska governor misused state resources during her run as the Republican vice presidential candidate. Andree McLeod filed her complaint today. Six other ethics complaints filed by McLeod against Palin or her staff have been dismissed. In the latest grievance, McLeod maintains eight staffers in the former governor’s office violated the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act by using state time, property and resources to benefit the campaign of presidential hopeful John McCain and runningmate Palin.