Alaska News Nightly: May 2, 2012

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Volunteers Search For Evidence In ComSta Double Homicide

Jennifer Canfield, KMXT – Kodiak

Well over a hundred volunteers, mostly Coast Guard members and family gathered early this morning at the Communications Station to help the FBI search for evidence related to the murders of Petty Officer 1st Class James Hopkins and retired Chief Petty Officer Richard Belisle. The two men were found dead the morning of April 12th by coworkers at the Communications Station.

Methane Hydrates Could Prove To Be Vast Untapped Resource

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

The U.S. Department of Energy says it was able to safely extract a steady stream of natural gas from methane hydrates this winter on Alaska’s North Slope. The agency partnered with oil companies to test new technology to remove methane trapped in ice crystals beneath the sea floor.  The federal government calls methane hydrates a vast untapped resource with enormous potential.

Chris Smith is Deputy Assistant Secretary for oil and natural gas at the Energy Department. APRN’s Lori Townsend asked him to describe what methane hydrates are.

State Gives TransCanada OK To Shift Attention To Gas Pipeline

The Associated Press

The state of Alaska has given TransCanada Corp. permission to shift its attention to a natural gas pipeline project to tidewater in the state that would be capable of overseas exports.

This was requested by TransCanada after the North Slope’s major players announced that they were aligning with TransCanada to pursue an alternative liquefied natural gas project.

TransCanada, which has an exclusive license with the state to pursue a line, had been focused mainly on a pipeline that would run into Canada. But the company hadn’t announced any agreements with producers for it.

TransCanada faced an October deadline to apply to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a certificate to build and operate the pipeline but the state pushed that back two years, to 2014, to accommodate the change in focus on projects.

Parnell Blames Unresolved Oil Tax, Gas Line Bills On Senate

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

Governor Sean Parnell is laying blame for the failure of the Special Session squarely on the state Senate. The session wrapped up Monday evening when the Alaska House followed the Senate’s lead and adjourned. That left the in-state gas pipeline bill unresolved. Earlier, the governor pulled his oil tax bill from consideration. Lawmakers did pass one bill to strengthen the state’s human trafficking laws.

Parnell says he withdrew his oil tax bill after it became clear lawmakers weren’t willing to compromise to pass a version of it.

Southeast Seiners Approve Buyback

Matt Lichtenstein, KFSK – Petersburg

There will soon be fewer seiners allowed to fish Salmon in Southeast Alaska. A majority of the fleet has voted to pay for an industry-funded buyback program. Supporters say it will mean less competition on the fishing grounds while opponents say it isn’t worth the cost to remaining permit holders.

Computer Model To Predict Climate-Driven Ecosystem Changes

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

A computer model being developed by University of Alaska Fairbanks researchers will predict climate driven ecosystem changes.  Alaska Integrated Ecosystem Model Project Manager Amy Breen says it accounts for major climate driven processes.

Work Underway To Repair Nome-Council Highway

Ben Matheson, KNOM – Nome

Emergency work is underway to repair the Nome-Council highway after damage from last fall’s Bering Sea storm. Repairing the road is the biggest item in Governor Parnell’s $30 million disaster declaration, with a price tag of $24 million.

New Book Presents About 3,000 Alaska Native Place Names

Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau

What’s in a name? If it’s a beach or a mountain or a stream, it can tell you what it looks like – or who’s been there. It can also document a change of ownership or the movement of a people.

A new book from the Sealaska Heritage Institute presents about 3,000 Southeast Alaska Native place names.

May Off To Chilly Start

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

May is starting off cold.  National Weather service meteorologist Corey Bogel says a large low pressure system over Northwest Alaska is dragging down temperatures.

The forecast also includes a chance of snow showers, but Bogell says more spring like weather should be back by the weekend.