Alaska News Nightly: Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016

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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Obama budget slows pace of buying F35s.

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington D.C.
President Obama’s 2017 Air Force budget would slow the pace of buying F-35s. That is the new fighter jet slated for Eielson Air Force Base. But top Air Force officials still speak highly of the plan to station them at the Fairbanks base.

Scientists find prevalence of algal toxins in the Arctic

Emily Schwing, KUCB – Unalaska
For the first time, scientists have documented the prevalence of two biotoxins in Alaska’s marine mammal population above the Arctic Circle. That’s according to a new study out today in the Journal Harmful Algae. It’s not clear if algal toxins have always existed in the Arctic, because scientists never looked before now.

Gara: Cuts shouldn’t fall too heavily on working class and low-income Alaskans

Andrew Kitchenman, KTOO – Juneau
The focus of most Alaska lawmakers in the first three weeks of the legislative session has been on cutting the state’s budget.  But Anchorage Democratic Representative Les Gara wants to make sure that these cuts don’t fall too heavily on working-class and low-income people.

ConocoPhillips plows ahead with developing the NPR-A

Rachel Waldholz, APRN – Anchorage
For 40 years, Alaska’s North Slope oil production has taken place on a stretch of state land sandwiched between two major federal reserves: to the east is the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge. To the west, the much larger National Petroleum Reserve Alaska — which, despite its name, never produced any oil, until this fall. ConocoPhillips hopes to change that in a big way. Despite oil prices hovering around $30 a barrel, the company is plowing ahead with efforts to develop the NPR-A.

Agreement expected soon between state and Ma-Su Borough on railroad right of way

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
An agreement  between the state and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough is soon to be finalized regarding state land the borough wants for a railroad right of way.  The Borough had purchased several agricultural parcels from the state in the Point MacKenzie area for a right of way for the rail spur between Port MacKenzie and Houston.

Edgecumbe to ANSEP: ‘It’s 70 years of tradition here’

Emily Kwong, KCAW – Sitka
The past three weeks have been turbulent at Mt. Edgecumbe High School in Sitka. The Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program, or ANSEP, has proposed turning the 70-year-old boarding school into an accelerated high school, with an emphasis on science and engineering. It all began when ANSEP founder Herb Schroeder presented his idea to lawmakers in January, as a draft piece of legislation. Since then, the University of Alaska has clarified that they haven’t endorsed the proposal.

Sass first of Yukon Quest mushers to arrive in Dawson

Molly Rettig, KUAC – Fairbanks
The top Yukon Quest teams are in Dawson City, Yukon, settled in for a mandatory 36 hour layover at the race’s halfway point. Brent Sass was first into Dawson yesterday. He’s eligible to leave around midnight. Sass will be followed out by Allen Moore, who trailed him into Dawson by two hours, and Hugh Neff, who is another 30 minutes back in third place. Dawson provides Quest teams a much-needed break.