Alaska News Nightly: March 4, 2010

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Thawing Sea Bed Releasing Methane Gas
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
A thawing arctic sea bed is releasing massive amounts of methane gas into the atmosphere.  The discovery off the eastern Siberian coast could accelerate global warming.

UA to Get New Climate Center in Anchorage
Libby Casey, APRN – Anchorage
The University of Alaska will host a new federal regional center for climate change research.  The Anchorage-based Climate Science Center is the first of eight to be set up throughout the country.  They’re part of an Obama Administration plan to learn more about the effects and implications of global warming.

Juneau Empties for DC Trip
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau and Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Thursday is the 45th day of this year’s ninety-day legislative session.   And it finds the capitol nearly empty, with no formal meetings taking place as about a third of the legislative membership is heading to Washington DC for the annual meeting of the Energy Council – while most of the rest of them head home for the long weekend.

Union Rallies in Juneau; Wants Higher Wages
Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau
Members of the state’s largest public employee union rallied on the steps of the State Office Building in Juneau Wednesday to express frustration with stalled contract talks. Alaska State Employees Association members say salary and wage increases offered by the state are inadequate.

Sealaska Lands Bill Prompts Debate
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
Democratic Senator Mark Begich says he supports next week’s listening sessions in southeast communities to get input on the Sealaska lands bill, while Congressman Don Young says it’s time to move forward. Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski is sending two staff members to Prince of Wales Island and other communities next week to hear from locals about the controversial bill .Southeast residents ventured to the nation’s capital recently to weigh in.

Fish and Wildlife Moving Ahead with Eradication Service
Jay Barrett, KMXT – Kodiak
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is going ahead with a plan to eradicate invasive mammal species on uninhabited islands near Kodiak and Akutan. In January, the service asked for comments on the removal of hoary marmots from one of the Barren Islands north of Kodiak, and European rabbits on Poa and Tangik Islands east of Akutan.

Warm Weather and No Snow Greets Iditarod Mushers
Ellen Locker, KSKA – Anchorage
Alaska, Canadian and Lower 48 mushers are gearing up for this year’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog race.  Despite warm weather and a lack of snow, race marshall Mark Nordman says trail conditions are okay.

Bikers Bike the Iditarod Trail
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
A group of hearty bikers, runners and skiers have had a first-hand look at Iditarod trail conditions since last Sunday. They’re competing in the Iditarod Invitational human powered race, from Wasilla to McGrath. 29-year-old Pete Basinger won late last night on a fat bike- a bike with pudgy tires to better stay afloat on the snow.

State Accepting Bids from Coastal Impact Program
Anne Hillman, KUCB – Unalaska
The state government is accepting applications for grants from the Coastal Impact Assistance Program. The $13.8 million of available funds will go toward local governments, non-profits, and others who submit projects that conserve and restore coastal areas and mitigate damage to fish, wildlife, and natural resources in those areas. Environmental education projects also qualify.