Alaska News Nightly: March 9, 2010

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To Couple or Decouple Gas and Oil – the Question Before Juneau
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Hearings opened in the Senate Tuesday morning on a bill to separate oil taxes from gas taxes — addressing the risk that – taken together — the two resources reduce the total revenue to the state. Economist Roger Marks told the Senate Finance Committee that the tax value of oil far exceeds the tax value of gas. Calculations from legislative and administration economists put the cost of combining the resources at nearly two Billion dollars a year when gas and oil prices are similar to the current market conditions. Separating the two taxes has solid support in the Finance Committee, and strong support throughout the entire Senate. However, there is objection to “decoupling” — as it’s called.  House Minority Leader Beth Kerttula of Juneau says there’s reason to worry that dealing with the bill will turn into a complete re-write of the state’s tax regime.

South Carolina Republican Says Now is Time to Act on Energy Policy
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington
A Republican Senator negotiating climate change legislation left a White House meeting on Tuesday saying now is the time to act on energy policy. South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham has been working for months with Democrat John Kerry of Massachusetts and Independent Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut on a bipartisan climate change bill.  Graham said this evening outside the White House that comprehensive legislation can create jobs, diminish dependence on foreign oil, and improve the environment – and he wants members of his party to get engaged.

Schnuelle and King Battle for Lead Out of Nikolai
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Iditarod front runner Sebastian Schnuelle was first into Nikolai this [tuesday] morning  at 9:47 with just a hair more than a half hour lead over Mitch Seavey. Alaska Dispatch reporter Jill Burke is in Nikolai and she says after Seavey a string of familiar names arrived.

Canadians Making their Mark as Mushers
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
Eight Canadians are driving dog teams in the iconic race to Nome. Some say that’s a  little less than ten to one odds that it could be Canada’s year to win the coveted first place finish.

Renewable Energy Fund Paying Dividends
Joe Viechnicki, KFSK – Petersburg
Officials say the state’s renewable energy fund created just two years ago is already starting to reduce the use of oil and gas to generate electricity in Alaska.

Scientists Pin Down Polar Bears’ Split from Brown Bears
Matt Miller, KTOO – Juneau
Scientists believe they have pinned down the period that polar bears diverged from the Southeast Alaska brown bear population.

Avalanches Close Down Seward Highway
Doug Nadvornick, Northwest News Network
Two avalanches closed down portions of the Seward Highway in Southcentral Alaska today, although a section has been reopened to Girdwood, places still remained closed at air time as road crews work to clear the snow. Outside of Alaska Winter has been relatively mild in the Pacific Northwest. The snowpack in most of the region’s mountains is well below normal. But it’s still been a deadly season in the backcountry.

Lifelock Agrees to Settle in FTC Case
The Associated Press
An Arizona company that promised to protect consumers from identity theft has agreed to pay $12 million to settle false advertising claims brought by the Federal Trade Commission and 35 states including Alaska. Tempe, Ariz.-based Lifelock Inc. has advertised its fraud protection service promising that it was a “proven solution” that would protect consumers from fraud. Lifelock agreed to stop saying it protects against all types of identity theft.