Liz Ruskin, APRN
lruskin (at) alaskapublic (dot) org | About Liz
The years 2002 through 2005 were bad for Bering Sea pollock. The biomass plunged during those years. In a presentation in Washington, D.C., a NOAA fisheries biologist said today ongoing research points to two suspects: ice and fat, in league with each other.
The U.S. House Natural Resources Committee today moved a bill to renew the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The sponsor, Alaska Rep. Don Young, says the bill makes minor changes to the fisheries law. But some fishermen and conservationists say it undercuts environmental protections and the requirement of science-based management.
The U.S. House today passed a military construction bill that includes $37 million for buildings at Eielson Air Force Base to support two squadrons of F-35s. The bill has almost as much for a new boiler at the Eielson power plant, and nearly $8 million for the Fort Greely gym.
Administrator Gina McCarthy says Alaska’s request for an exemption from the power plant rule will get serious consideration.
The White House is reviewing a highly controversial EPA rule on streams and wetlands. Sen. Lisa Murkowski pressed the EPA boss on it, saying it has Alaskans from all sectors worried.
The head of the Coast Guard says the country must invest in new icebreakers to meet a predicted increase in Arctic drilling and marine traffic. But he also told a U.S. Senate panel today the Coast Guard needs lots of ships, and icebreakers aren’t the top item on his acquisitions list.
Inside a thick government report on the impact of off-shore oil leasing in the Chukchi Sea is a phrase that grabs the attention. It says there’s “75% chance of one or more large spills.” Today, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management put out a fact sheet to clarify what it means by that 75 percent figure.
The U.S. Senate today voted to confirm Loretta Lynch as attorney general. Both Alaska senators voted against her, saying she has not shown she has the independence to stand up to the Obama White House.
Alaska mining advocates are taking issue with something Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said last week, while defending federal resource management in Alaska.
Sen. Dan Sullivan added an amendment to the human trafficking bill the U.S. Senate passed today. It addresses a problem he faced as Alaska’s attorney general, when the feds declined to prosecute Bill Allen on sexual abuse charges.
The United States assumes chairmanship of the Arctic Council next week, kicking off a two-year window to assert American priorities in the region. The U.S. and other member nations have committed to making the Arctic a “zone of peace.” But now, some Arctic watchers wonder if the U.S. needs to add an item to its Arctic priority list: get tough with Russia.
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell today defended the federal government’s land management and brushed off calls from legislators in Alaska, and other states, to seize federal lands.
The price of Brent Crude hit above $63 a barrel today, the highest it’s been this year. That gives Alaskans something to cheer about, but the head of the U.S. Energy Information Administration told a Senate panel Thursday two political events on the horizon would likely bring the global price down.
The U.S. Senate last night passed a bill to continue Secure Rural Schools. That’s a federal revenue-sharing program that delivers some $14 million to local governments in Alaska, primarily in Southeast, to compensate for low federal timber receipts. The bill also helps Medicare providers nationwide.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski is up for re-election next year, and her fundraising is going strong. Her campaign today reported she raised $700,000 in the first three months of the year, and has $1.5 million on hand.
The Secretary of the Air Force told Alaska officials Tuesday that Eielson Air Force Base will keep its F-16 Aggressor squadron. Alaska Congressman Don Young says it’s good news on its own but it also improves the chances the Eielson will get F-35 aircraft, too.
Greenpeace protesters have climbed down from an Arctic-bound drill rig in the Pacific. The activists said rough waters drove them off their high-seas bivouac on Shell’s Polar Pioneer this Saturday — nearly a week after they climbed aboard.
If you want to comment on Shell’s plan to drill in the Chukchi Sea this summer, now is your chance. The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management announced Friday that it considers Shell’s latest exploration plan and supporting documents sufficient enough to begin an official review. The determination kicks off a public comment period that lasts through the end of April.
Royal Dutch Shell announced this week a plan to purchase a major British LNG company, and statements by top executives suggest Shell may now be less committed to its future in Alaska’s offshore Arctic.
One hundred and fifty years ago, on April 9, General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox, Va. Textbooks typically say this event signaled the end of the Civil War. But a few historians make the case that the last shots of the war were actually fired from a Confederate ship off Alaska’s coast, in the Bering Sea.