Alaska News Nightly: January 21, 2010

Photo by Libby Casey, ARPN – Washington DC

California Senator Barbara Boxer and other Democrats, environmentalists, and members of Physicians for Social Responsibility met with the press to combat Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s resolution to overturn the EPA’s finding on greenhouse gasses.

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Murkowski: Overturn EPA on Greenhouse Gases
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski introduced legislation on Thursday to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s finding that greenhouse gasses are a danger to public health.

Parnell Delivers First State of the State
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Governor Parnell (R-AK) on Wednesday night delivered his first state of the state address to a joint session of the House and Senate.

Parnell Pushes Scholarship Plan
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
One of the top items on the governor’s agenda for this year is his merit-based scholarship plan — rewarding students who meet the standards by paying all or part of their university tuition. Besides grade standards, students would have to meet a curriculum minimum of four years of courses in math, language and science and three years of social studies. Rural legislators are questioning the fairness of the plan when some schools in their districts do not even offer all the courses it would be necessary to take. Governor Parnell says that Department of Education checked on that possibility before he announced the plan.

State-of-the-Art Vessel Being Built for Univ. of Alaska.
Steve Heimel, APRN – Anchorage
A shipbuilding company in Wisconsin will begin building a research vessel for the University of Alaska this spring.  The contract to build the ice-capable “AARV Sikuliaq” went to Marinette Marine Corporation.  The boat is due to be delivered in 2013 and will be home-ported in Seward.  Along with its ice-breaking capabilities, the 254-foot boat will be equipped with state-of-the-art multi-beam sonar, capable of detailed mapping of the ocean floor.

Environmentalist Removed from Cruise Panel

Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
State officials have removed a prominent environmental activist from a cruise-ship science panel. Gershon Cohen of Haines was one of nine people named earlier this month to a committee charged with looking at wastewater treatment options. Cohen co-sponsored a 2006 citizens’ initiative that imposed stringent new standards on the cruise industry. Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Larry Hartig took Cohen off the committee after hearing complaints, some from cruise-ship advocates.

Coastal Caucus Formed to Advocate SE Issues
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
About 10 Alaska lawmakers have joined a new nationwide Caucus of Coastal State Legislators. The caucus was formed to address economic, resource and environmental issues, as well as respond to the Obama administration’s ocean-policy initiatives. Lawmakers from about 30 states bordering ocean waters and the Great Lakes have joined the group. Juneau Representative Beth Kerttula, a Democrat, is one of the main Alaskans involved in the effort.

Yukon Quest Holds Line on $150K Purse
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Yukon Quest officials are holding the line on a $150,000 purse while reaching out to the public to cover last minute operational expenses before next month’s race.

Pebble CEO Holds Panel Discussion
Mike Mason, KDLG – Dillingham
The CEO of the Pebble Partnership was joined by a handful of Pebble Mine supporters and opponents in discussing the controversial project during a panel discussion.

Young Draw GOP Challenger
The Associated Press
Former telecommunications executive Republican Sheldon Fisher said Thursday he will challenge Rep. Don Young – Alaska’s sole representative in the U.S. House – in the 2010 primary election.  He has a law degree from Yale Law School and a degree from Brigham Young University. Young is seeking his 20th term.