Liz Ruskin, APRN
lruskin (at) alaskapublic (dot) org | About Liz
President Obama announced today he intends to vastly expand the Pacific Remote Islands marine sanctuary, putting a swath of the south-central Pacific off-limits to fishing and energy development. The announcement is part of a high-profile oceans conference taking place this week at the State Department. Australian scientist Ove Hoegh-Guldberg focused on ocean acidification, which he says undermines the entire marine food chain – from plankton and shellfish to bowhead whales.
The ground-based missile defense system, which includes interceptors at Fort Greeley, failed at target practice over the Pacific last year. Now the Pentagon is asking Congress for money to overhaul the system. The budget request shows Alaska is likely to remain central to missile defense as the system matures.
U.S. Senate candidate Dan Sullivan is calling on incumbent Mark Begich to sign a pledge to discourage outside groups from running political ads in the race. The pledge would impose a financial penalty on a campaign that benefits from Outside spending. Begich campaign isn’t buying it.
Ninty-nine percent of veterans seeking medical appointments from the Anchorage VA are seen within 30 days. That’s according to a Veterans Affairs audit released Monday.
Alaska utilities and policymakers are puzzling over President Obama’s proposal to cut carbon pollution from power plants and what the rules would mean for Alaska. Around the country, the proposal is viewed as a push to get states to clean up their coal plants, but that may not be the easiest way for Alaska to meet its target.
Former Fort Richardson soldier Bowe Bergdahl was released over the weekend from nearly five years in captivity in Afghanistan. Both of Alaska’s U.S. senators issued warm statements welcoming the news, but in Washington, the price paid for Bergdahl’s release and questions about how he became separated from his unit are igniting a political firestorm.
The U.S. House Natural Resources Committee today moved a bill to update the Magnuson-Stevens Act, the primary fisheries law in federal waters. Alaska Congressman Don Young amended the bill to allow subsistence fishermen a voice on the North Pacific Fisheries Management Council.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski told the Senate Appropriations Committee she hopes the FDA never allows genetically modified salmon to reach supermarket shelves.
“But we haven’t been able to get the FDA able to slow down off their track of approval,” she said.
So, Murkowski says, they should at least require “that they put on the package of fish: This is a genetically modified salmon.”
An Army Inspector General found no fault with how the Alaska National Guard handled reports of sexual assault and harassment. At least, that’s how the Inspector General’s office for the Defense Department explained it in a letter to Sen. Lisa Murkowski. She says she won’t comment until she gets a chance to see the IG report for herself.
About 200 national wildlife refuges have oil and gas development. Among them: the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, the only refuge in Alaska with active petroleum extraction. The agency that manages refuges, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, wants rules to regulate that activity. Alaska Congressman Don Young doesn’t like the idea, and he wasn’t quiet about it at a Congressional hearing today.
A report released Monday from the Government Accountability Office suggests U.S. participation in the Arctic Council lacks coordination and follow-through.
In Sen. Ted Stevens’ day, Alaska thrived on earmarks, the congressional practice of directing federal dollars to home-state projects. Lawmakers agreed in 2011 to end the tradition, in response to public outrage over projects such as Alaska’s so-called “bridge to nowhere.” To this day, nearly every account of alleged excess features as Exhibit A the bridge that would’ve connected Ketchikan to its island airport. But now, there’s serious talk in Washington of bringing back the earmark.
If you’ve heard anything about Alice Rogoff, the woman who recently bought the Anchorage Daily News, you’ll likely know that she’s married to a billionaire who co-founded the Carlyle Group, a Washington, D.C.-based private equity firm. David Rubenstein is making headlines with big examples of what he calls “patriotic giving.”
The U.S. Department of Interior has proposed a rule change that would allow Alaska tribes to ask the federal government to take their lands into trust. The request isn’t always granted, but Wednesday’s announcement is a legal turn that could vastly expand the recognition and authority of tribal sovereignty in Alaska.
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is the latest Outside group to launch campaign ads in Alaska’s U.S. Senate race. The national business lobby has a 30-second video spot running this week that hits Begich and supports one of his Republican challengers, former Attorney General Dan Sullivan.
Despite reports of a boom in Arctic ship traffic, a recent report by the Government Accountability Office concludes commercial industries aren’t planning to boost shipping through the Bering Strait or elsewhere in the U.S. Arctic over the next decade.