Alaska News Nightly: November 6, 2007

APOC will quietly continue VECO investigations; The Oil-tax bill moves onto the House Finance committee and Alaska’s salmon fisheries are recertified as sustainable. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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APOC forges ahead with investigation
David Shurtleff, APRN – Anchorage
The Alaska Public Offices Commission will continue its investigation into whether VECO executives illegally paid for polling — despite being asked by the Feds to tone down their probe. APOC first made the decision two weeks ago, but then got a letter from the Department of Justice. They met again this morning to re-consider, and have decided to push ahead in a more-limited role.

Oil-tax bill moves to House Finance
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
The House Finance Committee is scheduled to begin meeting on the Oil Tax Bill right now. This is the first hearing of the tax re-write that was completed Sunday night by the House Resources committee.

“Standard Deduction” added to oil-tax vocabulary
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
The Senate finance Committee is working on a bill that re-writes the state’ tax on oil profits. Most legislators want some changes to the current method of raising revenue. But a new approach is beginning to emerge in the House that would simplify the tax system. The “Standard Deduction” was introduced and then withdrawn when the House Resources Committee was writing its version of the tax.

Alaska Salmon fishery recertified as sustainable
Casey Kelly, KMXT – Kodiak
The London-based Marine Stewardship Council has re-certified the entire Alaska commercial salmon fishery as environmentally sustainable. That means Alaska salmon products can continue to use the MSC’s blue eco-label in stores and retail outlets around the world.

Joe Viechnicki, KFSK – Petersburg
Alaska energy authority staffers got their marching orders last week for a proposed system of electrical transmission lines connecting the communities of southeast Alaska. A working group formed to study the possibility for an electrical connection between the region and British Columbia directed the state to continue looking at that project…but placed a higher priority on a connection between Petersburg and Kake.

Citgo to distribute free heating fuel again this year
Angela Denning Barnes, KYUK – Bethel
Thousands of gallons of free heating fuel will once again be distributed to households in parts of Alaska this winter. It’s
another gift from Venezuelan-owned oil company, Citgo–this year worth 8 million dollars.

Oil-tax debate brings back memories

Anne Sutton, KTOO – Juneau
Oil tax discussions at the state capitol during the special session are reminiscent of years past when black crude first started flowing down the Trans Alaska Pipeline and the state was suddenly awash in money. Alaska was a young state with pent-up needs and a big appetite. Cold hard cash was nice to have, but that cash didn’t come without a struggle.