Alaska News Nightly: June 22, 2011

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DNR Declares New Renaissance for Cook Inlet’s Oil and Gas

Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage

The Department of Natural Resources is declaring a new Renaissance for oil and gas in Cook Inlet. A lease sale Wednesday was the most successful in recent memory, taking in 110 bids and raising $11 million. State officials are thrilled with the sale and hope it’s a first step toward reviving gas supplies in Southcentral Alaska.

Ambassadors Visit Alaska to ‘Experience America’

Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage

This week some three dozen foreign ambassadors are visiting Alaska as part of a U.S. State Department program called “Experience America.” Begun under the Bush administration, it offers diplomats stationed in Washington, D.C. a chance to learn about the America that lies beyond the nation’s capital

House and Senate in Talks for Coastal Management Special Session

Dave Donaldson, APRN – Anchorage

House and Senate leaders report progress in talks that could lead to extending the state’s Coastal Management Program. Senate President Gary Stevens and House Speaker Mike Chenault and several other members met late Tuesday to try to find enough common interests to justify calling a special legislative session to deal with the programs now-scheduled closure.

More Shipping Means More Resources Needed for North Alaska

Joaqlin Estus, KNBA – Anchorage

Alaska’s northernmost communities are seeing increased shipping off their shores, as climate warming loosens the ice that once locked out marine traffic. Although marine commerce is growing in the area, the Arctic environment requires specialized safety and monitoring resources, which don’t come cheap.

NOAA Calls for Creation of Climate Change Agency

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

A longtime National Weather Service meteorologist is pushing for a new sister agency focused on predicting climate change. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Alaska Region Climate Service director James Partain talked about the idea during a monthly climate change teleconference yesterday, as a way to focus research and forecasting.

Partain is one of six regional directors hired last year to promote the climate branch idea, which still faces funding approval. Alaska is second only to Antarctica in terms of the poor performance of forecasting models.

Partian says upgraded climate models need to be fed and ground-truthed with better weather observations. He also stressed the importance of improving the timely distribution of forecasts to decision makers and the general public.

Whittier Weather Station Soon to be Automated

Tony Gorman, KCHU – Valdez

One of the longest-human operated weather stations in the state will switch to an automated system at the end of the month. Since World War II, someone has manned the Whittier weather station.

Tustumena Ferry Hosts Health Fair for Aleutian Tribes

Alexandra Gutierrez, KUCB – Unalaska

There isn’t a permanent doctor on board the Tustumena, but this month the ferry had enough medical providers on board to staff a large rural clinic.

Sealaska Helps Kake’s Fish-Processing Plant Reopen

Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau

Sealaska is helping reopen Kake’s fish-processing plant. It’s part of the regional Native corporation’s increased emphasis on Southeast Alaska investments.

It also continues to expand its lower 48 businesses, some of which operate overseas.