Alaska News Nightly: January 13, 2009

Senator Clinton says she will focus on arctic issues as Secretary of State. Also, an abnormally high level of sea ice in the Bering Sea causes problems for crab fishermen.  And the extreme cold has been forcing Emmonak residents to choose fuel over food. Individual news stories are posted in the Alaska News category and you can subscribe to APRN’s news feeds via e-mail, podcast and RSS.

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Senator Clinton says she will focus on arctic issues as Secretary of State

Libby Casey, APRN – Washington, DC
Senator Hillary Clinton says if she’s confirmed as Secretary of State, Arctic issues will be a priority.  Clinton testified today before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which is considering her nomination as President-elect Barack Obama’s Secretary of State.

Senate Energy Committee grills nominee for Energy Secretary

Libby Casey, APRN – Washington, DC
Senator Murkowski helped welcome President-elect Obama’s Energy Secretary nominee to Capitol Hill today.  As her party’s ranking member on the Energy Committee, she was the first Republican to question Dr. Steven Chu about his nomination.  Chu is a Nobel Prize winning physicist who’s dedicated to finding renewable energy solutions.  At today’s hearing he received support from the Energy Committee, but also fielded tough questions.

Senator Murkowski invites nominee for Education Secretary to visit Alaska

Libby Casey, APRN – Washington, DC
Senator Murkowski also dropped in on the confirmation hearing for the Education Secretary nominee.  Arne Duncan is the chief of Chicago’s public school system.  Duncan received strong support from both Democrats and Republicans on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, on which Murkowski sits.

Sea Ice in the Bering Sea causes problems for crab fishermen
Anne Hillman, KUCB – Unalaska
An abnormally high level of sea ice is covering the Bering Sea this winter. It’s moving south faster than it has in more than 30 years – and it’s causing problems for the snow crab fishermen.

Extreme cold forcing Emmonak residents to choose fuel over food

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Residents of the Southwest Alaska village of Emmonak are running out of food as a trifecta of bad circumstances have forced them into choosing between high priced fuel or feeding themselves. A combination of a collapsed commercial fishery that left residents without summer income, an early fall freeze up that prevented a final fall barge fuel shipment and an unusual spell of extended cold has left residents in the Yupik village of 800 desperate.

Legislature looks at fiscal policies for mines
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Some elements of the state’s tax on the mining industry have not been changed since before statehood. And with several new major projects under consideration this year, a bill rewriting the minerals fiscal regime is before the legislature.

Teck Cominco job cuts won’t affect Alaska miners

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Canadian mining company Teck Cominco is cutting jobs, but the downsizing will not affect its Alaska operations. Teck announced last week that it’s eliminating 1400 jobs, or 13% of its worldwide workforce.

Copper Basin 300 winds down

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The Copper Basin sled dog race is nearly wrapped up.  Twenty mushers have finished the 300 mile race.  Lance Mackey won the Copper Basin yesterday.  The Iditarod and Yukon Quest Champion, crossed the finish line in Lake Louise at 4:41 p.m. Monday.  Hans Gatt was second, coming in at 5:24.  Brent Sass was next, less than a half hour later.  27 teams started the race Saturday.

Yukon Quest still scrambling for last-minute funding
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Yukon Quest officials are hustling to fill out the race’s budget before next month’s start.  Quest Director Tania Simpson says it’s unusual to be looking for money to shore up the race in January, but that this year’s situation is tougher than normal.

Department of the Interior announces funding for Park Service challenge projects

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne announced funding for the second round of National Park Service Centennial challenge projects today.The program aims to upgrade visitor centers and education facilities at National parks throughout the nation in the lead up to the National Park Service centennial in 2016.