Alaska News Nightly: December 20, 2012

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House Puts Off Vote On Tax Hike Bill

Peter Granitz, APRN – Washington DC

It was anticipated that the U.S. House would vote on a so called Plan B on Thursday that would have raised taxes on those who make a million dollars per year. The President had forwarded an idea to raise taxes on those who make $400,000 per year. The House has now put off the vote because of a lack of support to pass it. APRN’s Peter Granitz tells us the hold up in Congress is not unusual.

Buccaneer, Archer Drilling Argue Over Worker Compensation

Aaron Selbig, KBBI – Homer

A war of words has erupted between two oil and gas industry players over who exactly was responsible for paying workers on Buccaneer Energy’s jack-up rig “Endeavour.” While the rig sits idle at the Homer harbor more than four months after its arrival in Alaska, a lawsuit between Buccaneer and the “Endeavour’s” former operator – Archer Drilling – has been filed in Texas court.

Gas Caucus Gets Pipline Update, Already Crafting Legislation

Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage

State lawmakers today heard an update on a proposal to get natural gas from the North Slope to Southcentral Alaska. The project concentrates on in-state delivery, and involves a slightly larger gas line than previous plans. House Speaker Mike Chenault and Representative Mike Hawker have been pushing a pipeline in recent years and say they plan to reintroduce a gas pipeline bill this session.

‘Bristol Bay Forever’ Initiative Clears Lt. Governor’s Office

Dave Bendinger, KDLG – Dillingham

The “Bristol Bay Forever” citizen initiative cleared the Lieutenant Governor’s Office on Thursday, which means the initiative’s sponsors can start collecting the necessary signatures to put the initiative on the ballot.

Many Agree Robust Rescue Tug Needed In Aleutians

Lauren Rosenthal, KUCB – Unalaska

It’s been eight years since the Selendang Ayu cargo ship lost control and split in half outside Unalaska, spilling hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil and killing six crewmembers.

Since then, a team of consultants and maritime experts have been studying ways to keep the Aleutian Islands safe from passing vessels. Many agree that a robust rescue tug would help. But there’s a lot of disagreement over how soon the tug is needed – and whose job it is to acquire it.

Work Begins At Point Thomson

Steve Heimel, APRN – Anchorage

Work has begun on the gas field at Point Thomson on the North Slope. The Exxon-Mobil Corporation is working to connect the field to an existing pipeline, twenty-two miles away.

Pavement Painter Sentenced For Illegal Dumping

The Associated Press

The former owner of an Anchorage road and parking lot painting and striping business has been sentenced for illegally disposing of hazardous waste.

Federal prosecutors say 43-year-old William Duran Vizzerra Jr. illegally disposed of more than 200,000 pounds of highly-flammable hazardous waste in Anchorage. Prosecutors say he did it after being told it would cost him tens of thousands of dollars to properly dispose of the materials.

Vizzerra, president of Precision Pavement Markings, abandoned more than 320, 55-gallon drums and dozens of 5-gallon paint pails and 2-gallon totes. He pleaded guilty in August.

U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Beistline sentenced Vizzerra on Wednesday to 15 months in prison. He also was ordered to pay more than $395,000 in restitution to two victims for cleanup costs.

Fairbanks On Track For Worst December Air Quality On Record

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

Fairbanks is on track for the worst December air quality on record.  Cold stagnant conditions combined with emissions from heating and other sources are resulting in fine particulate pollution in excess of federal standards. With more extreme cold in the forecast, the prognosis isn’t good.

Alaska VA Office Moves Off JBER

Joaqlin Estus, KNBA – Anchorage

For veterans without military ID cards, several pieces of documentation were required to visit the Alaska Office of Veterans Affairs located on Joint base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage… including a driver’s license, vehicle registration and proof of insurance. That’s no more, now that the office has moved off the base.