Alaska News Nightly: January 15, 2010

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Yukon Villages to Get Federal Help After Fishing Disaster
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
Yukon River villages gained a federal “Chinook salmon fishery failure” determination on Friday, but it could be some time before fishermen see any cash relief. US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke formally recognized last year’s fishing disaster in Western Alaska, saying the designation paves the way for further Congressional action.

Parent Notification Measure Gets Enough Signatures
Steve Heimel, APRN – Anchorage
More than half a dozen file boxes containing the signatures of about 47,000 Alaskans were submitted to the state Elections Division office today.  That’s more than enough to qualify an initiative – requiring an under aged girl to notify her parents before an abortion – for the ballot. The legislature passed such a law in 1997, but it never went into effect and was found to be un-constitutional by the state Supreme Court in 2007.  Jim Minnery, of the organization “Alaskans for Parental Rights,” says backers of the initiative have also met the requirements to get signatures from most of the House districts in the state

Energy Project Circulating in Juneau
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
A potential project that would determine the feasibility of putting gas into utilities, homes and businesses throughout rural Alaska is beginning to be circulated at the capitol this year.

Wasilla Hockey Player Makes Team; Wants Olympic Gold
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
Alaskan Kerry Weiland is planning on winning gold in Vancouver next month. The 29 year old will be competing in her first Olympics with the US Hockey team. The defense player got her start in the sport when she was just five years old at the Wasilla hockey rink.

Adak Spill Clean Up Still Underway
Anne Hillman, KUCB – Unalaska
More than 10,000 gallons of diesel fuel and contaminated water have already been collected from the oil spill site in Adak. Two clean-up crews are working to recover the 142,800 gallons of diesel that spilled from a storage tank as it was being filled at Adak Petroleum on Monday. Most of the fuel was absorbed into the land. Unified Command spokeswoman Sara Francis says the clean-up crews are focusing on cleaning the water first. She says they’ve already removed most of the fuel that entered the small boat harbor. And the weather is working in their favor—rain is flushing the oil toward collection points and the waves are making it easier to clean up.

State Gets OK to Intervene in Shell Exploration Case
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

The State of Alaska has been granted the right to intervene in a case in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals concerning plans by Shell to proceed with exploration for oil in the Beaufort Sea. Several environmental groups are challenging the decision by the Minerals Management Service to allow development of the Outer Continental Shelf. But the state contends that the federal agency adequately considered the impacts of oil drilling on the Arctic ecosystem and on subsistence activities.

Anchorage Celebrating MLK Anniversary
Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage
Over the next four days Anchorage is holding a series of events celebrating and honoring King’s life and legacy.

Noorvik: First City to Be Counted in Census
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
Alaska kicks off the 2010 census later this month. The village of Noorvik will be the first in the country to have its residents tallied for the national headcount. US Commerce Secretary Gary Locke made a visit to census headquarters in Anchorage on Friday to tour the facility and to answer questions from census community partners who are working to reach different ethnic groups.  He says, this year, census officials are going door to door with a simple form.

Harbors and Boat Owners May Expecting Tougher Scrutiny
Matt Lichtenstein, KFSK – Petersburg
Alaskan harbors, boat yards and vessel owners may have to make some changes in future years to better comply with environmental rules. Some local officials have been expecting more scrutiny of their port facilities as the state of Alaska assumes control of permitting and enforcement for the federal clean water act.