Alaska News Nightly: February 23, 2012

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State Releases Final Batch of Palin Emails

Associated Press

Emails released by Alaska state officials show that Sarah Palin’s final months in office saw her fighting for a signature natural gas pipeline project and frustrated over a series of ethics complaints.

In a June 4, 2009, email to an aide, Palin told her to “push hard to get gasline.”

In a June 29, 2009 email to Lt. Gov. Sean Parnell, she said ethics complaints waste her time and money and the state’s time and money.

Citizens and news organizations, including The Associated Press, first requested Palin’s emails in September 2008, as part of her vetting as the Republican vice presidential nominee. The state released a batch of the emails last June.

Nearly 35,000 pages of emails were released Thursday, generally from October 2008 until Palin’s resignation in July 2009.

Sen. Murkowski Addresses State Legislature

Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski touched on an array of federal issues that affect Alaskans in her annual speech to the state Legislature on Thursday.

Murkowski Talks About State’s Energy Issues

Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau

The Senator did not limit her interest in Energy to the national issues such as ANWR or the TransAlaska Pipeline.   She also recognized that the state has its own in-state energy problems, calling it the most critical issue involving the state’s future success.

High Heating Costs Plague Bethel

Angela Denning-Barnes, KYUK – Bethel

Whenever oil prices are high, the effect is immediately felt in Rural Alaska. Prices for everything from groceries to building materials go up because they are all shipped in by fuel-run planes or barges.  As KYUK’s Angela Denning-Barnes reports from Bethel, residents are having trouble budgeting to stay warm as well.

New UAF Lab Enables Power Generation Testing

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

A new laboratory at the University of Alaska Fairbanks enables realistic testing of power generations systems for Alaska villages. Alaska Center for Energy and Power Director Gwen Holdman says the 5,000 square foot lab can analyze both traditional diesel and alternative energy generation systems.

Holdman says the lab is unique in its ability to mimic an isolated or islanded grid, common in Alaska.  She stresses that the lab does not rely on computer simulation, but uses real equipment to act out how generation systems will work in a specific community.

Holdman says the energy lab is enabling the U.A.F. Center to bring together and support diesel, wind, and hydro kinetic programs that have been scattered in various locations.  She says the lab is very Alaska focused, but its ability to verify performance of energy systems is drawing interest and contracts from outside Alaska.

Holdman says many 3rd world countries are dealing with similar energy challenges.  The new 4 million dollar U.A.F. energy lab is the first component of a planned Energy and Power Center expansion.  The next phase is a 30 million dollar office and small lab facility that would consolidate university energy research at one complex. The Center for Energy and Power is funded by government, tribal and private entities.

Destination of X-Band Radar Unclear

Alexandra Gutierrez, KUCB – Unalaska

Since it deployed six years ago, the Missile Defense Agency’s most powerful mobile radar has traveled across the Pacific, conducting flight tests and keeping an eye out for any ballistic missiles targeted at the United States. But while it’s been to Seattle and Pearl Harbor, it’s never made it to its homeport of Adak, where a $26-million mooring for the radar lies unused. With the release of Missile Defense Agency’s funding requests, it’s looking even more unlikely that the radar will ever use that facility.

Fisheries Board Takes Up Southeast Allocation Issues

Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau

The Alaska Board of Fisheries addresses Southeast finfish issues starting on Friday (Feb. 24).

Members will consider 145 proposals from advisory boards, gear groups and individuals.

They range from Sitka’s sac roe herring harvest to Juneau’s Taku River king sport fishery to changes in seine boat size limits.

The meeting lasts 10 days.

Fish and Game boards director Monica Wellard says much of the first few days will be taken up by public testimony.

“They’ll be allowed that particular time frame to talk about the proposals they’re for or against. And then there’s also the written comments they can provide, put it all in writing and submit that during the meeting so their comments can be heard,” she says.

Other proposals involve sport fishing for fresh water kings, rules for reporting catches, and listing Haines’ Luta Inlet as a subsistence management area.

The board of fisheries is meeting at Ketchikan’s Ted Ferry Civic Center.

Audio will be streamed via the board’s website. The link is on our website.

Grants Available For Imagination Libraries

Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage

A program that brings books to kids across Alaska is accepting grant proposals. Best Beginnings is giving away funds to communities who want to start Imagination Libraries and expand existing ones.

Climbers Come Together For Alaska Ice Climbing Festival

Shelby Carpenter, APRN Contributor

In Alaskan winters, even waterfalls freeze.  Once temperatures drop, these torrents of water in the canyons and gorges throughout our state turn solid.  And as soon as they do, Alaskan climbers go out and hit the ice.

On Saturday, many of these climbers came together in Anchorage to participate in the Alaska Ice Climbing Festival.  Reporter Shelby Carpenter dropped in on the action.

Fur Rondy Starts Friday

Associated Press

Anchorage’s Fur Rendezvous is set to begin Friday. The popular winter festival runs through March 4. Events including the annual ice carving competition and other events take place throughout the week. The Running of the Reindeer will be held downtown at 4 pm on Saturday March 3.