Alaska News Nightly: December 19, 2011

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US House Republicans Plan To Reject Payroll Tax Cut Extension

Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC

Republicans in the U.S. House are rejecting a plan to extend the popular payroll tax cut Americans are now getting.  The bill that’s dead in the water also includes extending long-term unemployment benefits and aid to needy families.

ConocoPhillips Receives Permit To Access NPR-A

Associated Press

The US Army Corps of Engineers has granted a permit to ConocoPhillips Alaska that will give the company access to the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.

The Corps on Monday announced it was granting the permit to cross the Colville River on Alaska’s North Slope.

The Corps in February 2010 denied a permit for a bridge and said a buried pipe would be less environmentally damaging.

ConocoPhillips appealed and the Corps sought a review of the proposal by the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The agencies two weeks ago signed off on bridge crossings if mitigation measures were met.

The Corps announcement says the permit authorizes construction of a drill pad, an access road, and four bridge crossings and new pipeline support structures.

Japan Tsunami Debris Arriving on West Coast

Steve Heimel, APRN – Anchorage

Debris from last March’s Japan tsunami has begun arriving on the west coast, much earlier than computer models predicted it would.

Pieces Coming Together For Historic Nome Fuel Delivery

Ben Matheson, KNOM – Nome

The pieces are coming together for Sitnasuak’s historic fuel delivery later this month in Nome. The first-ever winter fuel delivery in Western Alaska relies on a double hulled Russian tanker that may be led through the ice by the Coast Guard’s only working icebreaker.

‘Occupy’ Protests Have Unexpected Impact In Wrangell

Charlotte Duren, KSTK – Wrangell

The West Coast “Occupy” movement could end up affecting the Southeast city of Wrangell.. Shipping interruptions caused by port protests may delay a time-sensitive streetlight project in Wrangell.

Herring Limit Jumps After ADF&G Adjusts Ages

Ed Ronco, KCAW – Sitka

It could be a record year, at least in volume, for the Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery. A forecast released last week predicts the biggest harvest ever, at 29,000 tons.

That number is called the guideline harvest level, or GHL, and this year’s number is a big change from last year’s. But Sitka’s local tribal government is calling the number “irresponsible.”

Fourth Chinook Predicted in Southcentral

Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage

The National Weather Service is predicting another Chinook for Southcentral Alaska starting Tuesday. If it materializes, it will be the fourth windy and warm event of the season. The last Chinook blew through Anchorage Sunday, with winds up to 104 miles per hour on the hillside and 40 miles per hour in town. Temperatures climbed as high 46 degrees. Dave Snider is a forecaster with the National Weather Service. He says it will mostly affect higher elevations.

Snider says Chinooks are tricky to forecast. If the storm diverges from models by just a few miles, it can dramatically affect how warm and windy it gets. He says it looks like this will be the last Chinook for Southcentral, at least for a while. He says he’s new to the area, but colleagues report this winter has been an odd one.

After Tuesday the forecast is calling for some snow and colder temperatures.

Nikiski LNG Plant Gets Reprieve

Shaylon Cochran, KDLL – Kenai

The ConocoPhillips liquid natural gas plant in Nikiski that was moth-balled last month has gotten a reprieve.  The company announced last week that new contracts will send more work to the facility. But it doesn’t necessarily mean new jobs.

BBNA Preparing Transit System Plan

Daysha Eaton, KDLG – Dillingham

The Bristol Bay Native Association is getting ready to plan a transit system for Bristol Bay.  BBNA officials say the service could link people who live in Southwest Alaska’s outlying villages to regional hubs like Dillingham for work, medical care and other services.