Alaska News Nightly: June 8, 2010

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Murkowski Introduces “Disapproval Resolution”
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
Senator Lisa Murkowski and a dozen other Republican lawmakers in Washington gathered Tuesday before reporters to preview her plan to block the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulation of greenhouse gasses.

Murkowski is introducing a “disapproval resolution” that would strip the EPA of its power to regulate carbon dioxide.  It will be debated and voted on Thursday on the Senate floor.

Even if Murkowski’s plan gains traction in Congress, the Obama Administration said Tuesday that the President’s senior advisors will recommend he veto it.  It says Murkowski’s plan would undermine the Clean Air Act. But Murkowski says the EPA intends to take control of climate policy.

Newly Trained Police Heading to Alaska Villages
Shane  Iverson, KYUK – Bethel
Dozens of villages across Alaska and the YK Delta will soon see the presence of newly trained police officers

A new training academy taking place in Bethel is boasting the largest ever graduating class of Village Police Officers.

State Lawmakers Demand Special Session
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
A group of state lawmakers wants Governor Sean Parnell to call them back into special session so they can override his veto of a bill expanding access to Denali Kid Care. The program provides health care to low income families. Last week, Parnell said he was vetoing the bill because the program funds medically necessary abortions. Senator Bettye Davis, a Democrat from Anchorage, sponsored the bill.

The bill was meant to provide health care to 1,200 more kids in Alaska and 200 more pregnant women, by increasing the income guidelines. When he announced the veto, Parnell said he was changing his mind on the expansion because he had recently learned Denali Kid Care funded some abortions. But lawmakers say he has known for more than a decade. Senator Hollis French, a Democrat from Anchorage, pointed to a transcript of an exchange Parnell had when he was a Senator in 1998 and the Denali Kid Care bill was being considered for the first time.

“Man Ahead of Us” May Be Key to Past
Matt Miller, KTOO – Juneau
There’s no apparent relationship between a man who lived on Prince of Wales Island 10,300 years ago and present day Southeast Alaska natives. But the connection may still be there – waiting to be discovered.

The remains of the man, know as Shuka Kaa or “Man ahead of us,” was found in “On Your Knees Cave.”

Doctor Brian Kemp is a molecular anthropologist at Washington State University who uses genetics to research relationships of indigenous American populations. He returned to Juneau during Celebration 2010 last week to explain his findings. Kemp says they were able to extract from Shuka Kaa’s tooth a sample of mitochondrial DNA. That’s a smaller genetic sequence located outside of a cell’s nucleus that’s only passed on maternally.

Mining Company Explores Groundhog Mountain
Adam Kane, KDLG – Dillingham
A global mining company is beginning exploratory work at Groundhog Mountain near Lake Iliamna.

Dome Seeks Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection
Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage
On Sunday, the non-profit corporation that operates the huge sports dome in south Anchorage announced that it had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.   Yesterday afternoon, Anchorage Sportsplex Incorporated was in court to begin setting up formal arrangements with its major creditors.

Climber Dies on Denali
Associated Press
A mountaineer from Belgium has died in a fall on Mount McKinley. The National Park Service says the accident occurred Monday afternoon on a highly technical section of the Cassin Ridge on North America’s highest mountain. Park officials say 27-year-old Joris Van Reeth of Borgerhout, Belgium, was leading the way when his climbing anchor likely failed and he fell about 100 feet in rocky terrain. Van Reeth fell to where his partner, 24-year-old Sam Van Brempt, was positioned. Van Brempt was not injured. After confirming that his climbing partner was dead, he used his satellite phone to call Denali National Park officials.

The death is the second on McKinley this climbing season. A 51-year-old French climber died last month.

First Weekend of Dipnetting at Chitina Solid
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
It was a solid first weekend of dip netting at Chitina.  State Management Biologist Mark Sommerville says the few who headed down to the Copper River didn’t limit out at 30 fish, but most did alright.

Sommerville says sockeyes have been running on the larger side, likely due to strong component of 5-year-old fish in this year’s run. He says the much lower volume king run appears to be okay, with downstream harvest in native village of Eyak fish wheels slow, but better than last year. Salmon passage by the Miles lake sonar was below projections the last week of May, prompting a suspension of commercial harvest on the Copper River Delta.  Sommerville says numbers have been picking up in recent days.

Alaska Sees Record-Breaking Pollen Counts
Lily Mihalik, KCAW – Sitka
Alaska has seen record-breaking pollen counts this spring. After seeing billowing clouds of pollen over Sitka’s hilltops, KCAW’s Lily Mihalik spoke with Dr. Jeffrey Demain, Director of the Center for Allergy, Asthma and Immunology of Alaska, to see what rising pollen counts, and global climate change mean for Alaskans.