Alaska News Nightly: December 31, 2009

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Download Audio (MP3)Bligh Reef Tug’s Captain and Second Mate Relieved
The Associated Press
The captain and second mate of the tugboat Pathfinder have been relieved of their duties as a result of the tugboat’s grounding last week on Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound.

Canadian Gas Pipeline Gets Panel’s OK
Steve Heimel, APRN – Anchorage
A Canadian natural gas pipeline between Alberta and the MacKenzie River delta took a big step forward yesterday, when an independent panel appointed by the government to look into the social and environmental impacts of the project recommended that it go ahead.  The Joint Review Panel said the area would be better off with the project than without it – but it wants strict conditions.

Mayors Meet on Beluga Habitat
Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage
Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan met yesterday with the mayors of the Kenai Peninsula and Matanuska-Susitna Boroughs to discuss and plan their responses to the proposed federal designation of Cook Inlet as critical habitat for the area’s beluga whales.

Alaska Files Objections to Polar Bear Set Aside
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
The state administration has filed objections to the proposed federal designation of a more than 200,000-square mile area as polar bear critical habitat.  The proposal is required now that the polar bear is listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act.

Nordic Skiers Compete in Anchorage for Shot at Olympic Team
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
Nordic skiers from across the nation will compete in Anchorage starting Saturday in the US Cross Country Ski Championships.  The races take on added importance this year, because they’ll help athletes qualify for a spot on the US Olympic and Paralympic teams.

Skier to Watch: Anchorage’s James Southam
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
Anchorage racer James Southam will be one of the skiers to watch at Kincaid next week. Southam is a distance specialist who went to his first Olympics in Italy in 2006 and is hoping to make the team again this time around. But it’s turning out to be more of a nail- biter than he was expecting.

PFD Applications Go Online January 1
Rosemarie Alexander, KTOO – Juneau
Permanent Fund dividend applications will be available online at midnight. This is the first year PFD booklets will not be mailed to every Alaska household.

Our Blue Moon: Rare and Mystifying
Celeste Novak, KDLG – Dillingham
Thursday night is the blue moon, much of the mystery around the blue moon is folklore.

December Was a Month for the Moon
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
The double full moon this month is rare, but to top that, Alaskans got to see a partial eclipse of the moon Thursday morning. Travis Rector is an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Alaska Anchorage.

New Year Parties Abound
Jeff Brown, KTOO – Juneau
The coming of the New Year ushers in a plethora of parties. Our roving reporter, Bob Babble, was able to finagle his way into a traditional Alaskan celebration.