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Alaska News Nightly: February 15, 2013

February 15, 2013

Individual news stories are posted on the APRN news page. You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via emailpodcast and RSS. Follow us on Facebook at alaskapublic.org and on Twitter @aprn.

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Some Legislators Attempting To Start School Voucher Program In Alaska

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau

A dozen states across the country have school voucher programs. Now, some legislators are trying to bring vouchers to Alaska. APRN’s Alexandra Gutierrez reports that push for directing state funding to private schools has more momentum than it’s had in the past.

Micciche Says He Does Not Support Parnell Oil Tax Plan

Aaron Selbig, KBBI – Homer

Since his election to the Alaska State Legislature last year, Senator Peter Micciche has found himself neck-deep in oil and gas issues, something he knows about as a long-time employee of Conoco Phillips.

Campylobacter Outbreak Linked to Raw Milk on the Kenai Peninsula

Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage

The State Department of Health is investigating an outbreak of a food borne illness linked to raw milk. Officials have confirmed four cases of Campylobacter infection in people who drank raw milk on the Kenai Peninsula. The illness causes diarrhea, vomiting and fever.

Agency Declines to Continue Research Investigation

The Associated Press

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management says it has found no misconduct in research by an Alaska scientist who wrote a 2006 paper on drowned polar bears and was subsequently investigated.

Scientific integrity officer Bradley Blythe says in a memo to BOEM Director Tommy Beaudreau that he considers the review of Charles Monnett closed.

Monnett’s peer-reviewed paper reported four dead polar bears floating in Arctic Ocean waters after a storm.

Monnett and a co-author suggested that polar bear drowning could increase if pack ice continued to diminish. The paper received widespread media coverage as a negative effect of global warming.

Monnett has been represented by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

Executive Director Jeff Ruch says the motivation for the investigation was retaliation by a pro-drilling federal agency.

State Sets Contamination Threshold For Sulfolane

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

The state has set a contamination threshold for sulfolane in North Pole ground water.  The standard reflects years of research on the chemical which has polluted the aquifer in an area surrounding a local oil refinery.

NPS Considers Increasing Winter Vehicle Access Into Denali National Park

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

The National Park Service is considering increasing winter vehicle access into Denali National Park. The agency is taking public comment on proposals to plowing farther out the road.  Park spokeswoman Kris Fister says access would be increased beyond the mile 3 visitor center where plowing currently stops.

Rick Swenson Withdraws From Iditarod

The Associated Press

Musher Rick Swenson – the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race’s only five-time champion – has withdrawn from the 2013 race.

AK: The Tiniest Catch

Stephanie Joyce, KUCB – Unalaska

They are often overshadowed by the larger Bering Sea fleets, but Unalaska has a handful of small boat commercial fishermen who make their living in the waters around the Aleutian Islands. During the recent tanner crab fishery, KUCB’s Stephanie Joyce headed out to see what it’s like to be a small boat in big boat territory.

300 Villages: St. Paul

This week, we’re going to the Pribilof Island community of St. Paul, off the west coast of the state in the Bering Sea. Connie Newman is superintendent of the School District for the Pribilof Islands of St. Paul and St. George.

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