Alaska News Nightly: March 1, 2010

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Legislators Take off for DC
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
More than a third of the state legislature is heading to Washington this week to meet with federal officials and to attend sessions of the Energy Council — a group of states and other countries that get together every year to discuss common energy-related issues.

Gas For Southcentral Alaska Debated in Juneau
Ben Stanton, KDLL – Kenai and Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
A bill proposed in the Alaska state legislature aims to expedite the construction of an in-state gas pipeline to bring natural gas from the North Slope to Southcentral Alaska; including Anchorage and the Kenai Peninsula.  Its prime sponsor is House Speaker Mike Chenault, a Republican from Nikiski. Governor Sean Parnell said he’d like the legislature to make up its mind on what the governor should do. He says that last year, his office was given seven million dollars for work on the instate gas line. He says his team is meeting the legislature’s own schedule and is within budget — under last year’s instructions. Parnell says his team was charged last year with getting cost estimates on all the options possible for an instate line — and to get as many permits as possible for a developer to use. That would speed up construction and lower the cost of a line. He says Chenault’s bill would spend hundreds of millions of dollars for a project without the advance work necessary. He says Chenault’s project does not even consider that there is no gas available at this point.

Begich Raps Colleague for Blocking Unemployment Benefits
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
U.S. Sen. Mark Begich (D-AK) issued a statement on Friday in response to an attempt in the Senate by one lawmaker to block the extension of unemployment benefits and COBRA benefits for 30 days. Retiring Sen. Jim Bunning (R-KY) has refused to allow the Senate to adopt the legislation by unanimous consent.

Alaska: 8th on the Per Capita List
Mike Mason, KDLG – Dillingham
Alaska is ranked 8th in the country in per capita income behind big money states like Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New York.

Ocean Beauty Seafood To Stay Closed This Summer
Matt Lichtenstein, KFSK – Petersburg
A poor pink salmon projection has prompted one of Petersburg’s canneries to stay closed this summer. Ocean Beauty Seafood’s says they will continue to buy salmon from all the fishermen who usually sell to them, but they only plan to land and process the catch at the
company’s plant near Juneau.

Fairbanks Real Estate Market Stabilizing
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The Fairbanks area real estate market appears to have survived the recession that devastated housing sales in much of the Lower 48.  The Greater Fairbanks Area Board of Realtors reports relatively stable conditions.

Craig Student Wins State Spelling Bee
Deanna Garrison, KRBD – Ketchikan
An 8th grader from the Craig Middle School beat out 158 spellers from around Alaska to take top honors at the state spelling bee on Friday.
Kodiak Braced For Blizzard AND a Tsunami

Jay Barrett, KMXT – Kodiak
As far as natural disasters go, the conjunction of a blizzard watch and a tsunami advisory is a rather unique combination, but that’s what residents of Kodiak dealt with on Saturday.