Alaska News Nightly: Thursday, April 20, 2017

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Trial opens for couple accused of starting ’15 Willow wildfire

Casey Grove, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage

Did an Anchorage couple start the 2015 wildfire that devastated a big swath of Willow? That’s the question for a Palmer jury, which heard opening statements Thursday as the trial over what became known as the Sockeye Fire began.

BP leak successfully plugged

Elizabeth Harball, Alaska’s Energy Desk – Anchorage

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation today announced that a leaking oil and gas well on the North Slope was successfully plugged.

Oil and gas industry defends Hilcorp’s safety record

Elizabeth Harball, Alaska’s Energy Desk – Anchorage

Last week, Hilcorp was finally able to fix a fuel line in Cook Inlet that regulators say started leaking gas in December. But the oil and gas company and its allies are still struggling to contain another issue: environmental groups, which argue that Hilcorp’s problems in Cook Inlet disqualify the company from drilling for oil in the Arctic Ocean.

Gambell sees second whaling of the year

Davis Hovey, KNOM – Nome

Families and community members on St. Lawrence Island will be eating Bowhead whale this week after a local hunter caught Gambell’s second whale of the season on Monday night.

Juneau boundary expansion could threaten subsistence living in Angoon

Emily Russell, KCAW – Sitka

The City and Borough of Juneau is looking to expand its boundaries on Admiralty Island. That island is home to Angoon, a community of about 500 people, some of whom fear a nearby land annexation would threaten their subsistence lifestyle.

YK villages serve as models for renewable energy

Anna Rose MacArthur, KYUK – Bethel

This fall, Kongiganak is set to install a lithium ion battery in its utility system that could replace more than half the village’s electric and heating needs with wind energy. For more than four years, about a third of the village’s energy has come from this renewable resource.

Wind-farm developer assails GVEA’s refusal to buy more power

Tim Ellis, KUAC – Fairbanks

Lawyers representing the Delta Wind Farm are asking state regulators to deny a tariff filed by Golden Valley Electric Association that argues the utility should not be required to buy more power from the wind farm. GVEA said it should be exempt from state and federal regulations intended to promote use of renewable energy, because it can’t integrate more wind power now without incurring costs that would be passed along to ratepayers.

Cause of death and suspect info released for April 4th Fairbanks murder

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

Fairbanks Police have released more information about an April 4th murder. 44-year-old Jose Alfonso Sifuentes Morales was found dead just after midnight on the road in the area of 3rd Avenue and Hall Street. No other information had been released until a press briefing Wednesday, during which Detective Peyton Meredith revealed cause of death.

Cold weather slows winter break up

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

Unusually cold temperatures across the interior this week are slowing break up.

Project Citizen brings civics to Gruening classroom

Vikram Patel, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage

Civic engagement may sound pretty boring to some. But the eighth graders at Gruening Middle School in Eagle River don’t seem bored at all. They’re competing in Project Citizen, a program that teaches students how to participate in local and state government, training politicians of the future. The state competition takes place in Fairbanks tomorrow.