Alaska News Nightly: March 20, 2012

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Oil Tax Dispute Turns Personal

Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau

The standoff over Governor Parnell’s plan to rewrite the state’s oil tax regime has turned personal.  In a letter to Senate Finance Co-Chair Bert Stedman late last week, Parnell referred to Senators working on an alternate tax reduction plan as, “a group of hens in the barnyard.”

Buccaneer Energy, Apache Alaska Found In Violation Of Clean Water Act

Shaylon Cochran, KDLL – Kenai

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced Monday two permit violations for seismic surveying activity around Cook Inlet.  Buccaneer Energy and Apache Alaska are the two companies found to have been in violation of provisions of the Clean Water Act and the National Historic Preservation Act.

Former Exxon Valdez Sold For Scrap

Tony Gorman, KCHU – Valdez

The former Exxon Valdez is heading to the scrap heap.  As the 23rd anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill approaches, the tanker that ran aground in Prince William Sound and spilled millions of gallons of oil will be scrapped in Asia. The oil spill wasn’t the Exxon Valdez’s last incident and this isn’t the first time the tanker has changed hands.

Group To Sue Over Lack Of Right Whale Recovery Plan

Associated Press

An environmental group has given notice it intends to sue the federal government for failing to prepare a recovery plan for highly endangered North Pacific right whales.

Rebecca Noblin of the Center for Biological Diversity in Anchorage says a letter was sent Tuesday to the National Marine Fisheries Service announcing lawsuit plans. A 60-day notice is required before an Endangered Species lawsuit can be filed.

The northern right whale has been listed since 1973. The fisheries service in 2008 published a rule listing North Pacific and North Atlantic right whales as separate endangered species.

Noblin says in the letter that western stock of North Pacific right whales has at most a few hundred animals and the eastern stock that summers in U.S. waters has even fewer – about 30 whales.

Two Rescued After Guided Dog Mushing Trip Goes Awry

Emily Schwing, KUAC – Fairbanks

Two women were rescued after a guided dog mushing trip went awry Sunday night in the White Mountains Recreation Area, north of Fairbanks. Megan Peters is the spokesperson for the Alaska State Troopers. While details remain sketchy, Peters says both women were part of a four-member group that included three dog teams and a snow machine.

Alaska Native Leader Niles Cesar Passes Away

Joaqlin Estus, KNBA – Anchorage

A leader in moving tribes to greater self-determination died over the weekend.

Senior Agriculture Official Touring Southeast Alaska

Deanna Garrison, KRBD – Ketchikan

A senior official with the U.S. Department of Agriculture is touring Southeast Alaska this week. KRBD’s Deanna Garrison sat down with the Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and the Environment during his visit to Ketchikan on Monday.

Santorum, Romney Gain Eight Delegates Each In Preference Poll

Associated Press

Final results are in from the Alaska GOP’s presidential preference poll: Mitt Romney remains the winner, narrowly defeating Rick Santorum, and Santorum picked up enough votes to earn another delegate.

Party Chairman Randy Ruedrich says the results released following the March 6 contest did not include about 900 out-of-district ballots that were cast. Those were just counted.

The results show Romney with 4,554 votes; Santorum with 4,254; Ron Paul with 3,410 and Newt Gingrich with 1,878.

Twenty-four delegates were up for grabs, allocated in proportion to the candidate’s share of the vote.

Santorum gained a delegate, ending with eight, the same as Romney. Paul’s delegate count remained at six; Gingrich lost a delegate and ended with two.

Additionally, three state party leaders will go to the national convention as unpledged.

Dana Stabenow Releases 19th Kate Shugak Novel

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

Homer mystery writer Dana Stabenow has just released the 19th novel in her Kate Shugak series. For the first time the Private investigator Shugak meets up with another series character of Stabenow’s Liam Campbell.

Restless in the Grave begins in Afghanistan where a young man is forced into shooting down a helicopter and then we find ourselves in Southwest Alaska. Dana wouldn’t budge when I pressed for the connection between the middle east and remote areas of Alaska, saying it would give away too much of the mystery. But she did tell me that it started with her decision to kill off a fictional unpopular Alaska pilot with a Super Cub. She wanted a wide suspect pool, so she quizzed a Homer pilot and a mechanic for an easy way to sabotage a plane. He suggested simply loosening a nut on an oil filter.