Dan Bross, KUAC - Fairbanks
Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.
Legislators got an update on the partially state financed North Slope to Fairbanks natural gas trucking project this week. The state is working with private company MWH to build a $185 million gas processing plant on the North Slope to feed tanker trucks that will move LNG to Fairbanks. The goal of the Interior Energy Project is to deliver first gas by late 2015, at a consumer cost equivalent of about half the price of fuel oil, but many questions remain about how the project will play out.
Dog mushing is Alaska’s official state sport, but not everyone can just jump on a sled and go. KUAC’s Dan Bross reports on a new Fairbanks non-profit organization aimed at getting people with disabilities out mushing.
The Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce isn’t giving up on the Flint Hills refinery. Flint Hills announced last week that it plans to cease crude oil processing at the North Pole Plant, and turn the facility into a distribution depot for fuel shipped in from other facilities. Fairbanks chamber board chair Steve Lundgren says the organization will work with the state to try to find a new owner-operator for the refinery.
The Fairbanks North Star Borough School District Fairbanks district is planning for a major funding shortfall. The district is anticipating cuts even if requested state and local funding increases come through.
Governor Sean Parnell said the state is not to blame for Flint Hills decision to close its North Pole refinery. Costs related to the cleanup of sulfolane groundwater contamination, from historic spills of the industrial solvent at the refinery, are identified by Flint Hills as a factor that went into the decision to stop production. The state recently set a strict sulfolane contamination threshold for ground water cleanup, but speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Parnell downplayed the significance of state regulation in the refinery’s shutdown.
A final public hearing on proposed Department of Environmental Conservation fine particulate pollution regulations drew a large turn out earlier this week in Fairbanks. The regulations aimed at bringing wintertime air in Fairbanks in line with federal standards, continue to be controversial.
The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority has selected a business partner for development of a natural gas processing plant on the North Slope. At a meeting yesterday (Tuesday) the AIDEA board chose a group lead by MWH Americas to construct the plant that will liquefy gas for trucking to Fairbanks. KUAC’s Dan Bross reports.
There’s less than normal ice build up on many Interior waters. The National Weather Service drills into ice on rivers and lakes at the start of each month, and agency hydrologist Ed Plumb says January’s measurements showed generally thinner ice.
Midwinter grizzly and track sightings have raised concern in the Denali Park area. Local resident, four time Iditarod Champion Jeff King spotted blood and bear tracks on a trail while training dogs Wednesday.
There continues to be concern in Fairbanks about proposed state regulations aimed at reducing fine particulate pollution from wood stoves and boilers. The latest in a series of public meetings on the proposals, a hearing and open house this week, drew big turn outs.
A University of Alaska lead consortium has been selected by the Federal Aviation Administration to operate an unmanned aerial vehicle test center. It will be one of six centers across the country charged with helping integrate the technology into national airspace. Alaska partnered with Oregon and Hawaii on the successful proposal.
Interior low temperatures dipped into the 50 below range again today, as a cold snap that began Monday, deepened across the interior. Among the coldest readings this morning were minus 55 at Eagle and 54 below at Ft. Yukon. A strong inversion has kept hilltop temperatures in the 10 to 15 below range, while sinking the deepest cold into valleys. The Fairbanks bowl has also suffered from accumulated emissions.
The Interior Gas Utility is laying out a plan of action, following the state granting the Fairbanks North Star Borough entity’s request to supply natural gas to currently un-served areas of town. Getting natural gas to more neighborhoods is a step toward lowering energy bills and reducing emissions.
Federal court rulings supporting the National Park Service regulation of state owned waters in parks are being appealed. A recent ruling turned down Anchorage moose hunter John Sturgeon’s challenge, of a Park Service ban on hovercraft on the Nation River inside Yukon Charley National Preserve.
A controversial proposal to build Alaska’s second drag racing strip near North Pole is closer to becoming a reality. The Fairbanks North Star Borough Planning Commission approved an application last night by the Fairbanks Racing Lions for the half-mile track.