Alaska News Nightly: February 19, 2009

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Murkowski speaks to Alaska legislature, issues warnings on Alaska gas development
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski today gave her annual report to the state House and Senate — this year focusing on energy and Alaska’s role in helping the rest of the country.

Renewable energy projects to get national $40 billion boost
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington, DC
The new Energy Secretary says renewable energy projects will get a major boost from the economic stimulus package. Secretary Steven Chu says they’ll also get federal loan guarantees as soon as April or May, through an easy application process.

Palin to deliver food, meet with residents in western Alaska
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
Governor Sarah Palin is heading to western Alaska tomorrow, to help deliver food to families in Marshall and Russian Mission. The trip is being organized by the faith-based nonprofit Samaritan’s Purse.

Union members press State to bring back old pension plan
Rosemarie Alexander, KTOO – Juneau
Anchorage Representative Harry Crawford whipped up a crowd of state workers on the capitol steps today. They’re all members of various unions that represent public employees and teachers. Today’s agenda: return the state’s pension plan to a defined benefit program. It’s been 4 years since the Legislature passed the controversial Defined Contribution Plan — similar to a 401(k) in which investment risk and rewards are assumed by the individual employee and not by the employer.

BP reports Prudhoe Bay spill of unknown size
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
British Petroleum has reported a spill of an undetermined amount of gas, oil and water from a flow line at Prudhoe Bay. The spill was detected Wednesday afternoon by an oil field worker making rounds.

Little leads Quest into last 500 miles
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Jon Little led the way out of the Dawson checkpoint on the Yukon Quest at 10:51 this morning. He was followed closely by William Kleedehn at 11:06 and Hugh Neff at 11:33. Three other mushers were within striking distance of the leaders: Hans Gatt, Sebastian Schnuelle, and Brent Sass left the checkpoint this afternoon.

Tongass Science Conference explores ecosystem protection amongst logging
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
Forest scientists are looking at different ways of protecting the Tongass ecosystem while logging continues. Ecologists, biologists and other specialists are comparing notes and debating ideas on the forest’s future at this week’s Tongass Science Conference in Juneau.

Sitka cyber victim shares story as a lesson for others
Robert Woolsey, KCAW – Sitka
Virtual criminals make no distinction about where their victims live, whether it’s an apartment in Manhattan, or an island in Southeast Alaska. But one Sitka resident has decided a good offense is the best defense against online identity theft. She’s decided to go public in the hope that others can take a lesson from her story.

UAF researchers introduce ‘Sunshine Barley,’ designed for northern growing
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
University of Alaska Fairbanks researchers are preparing to release a new variety of hull-less barley in time for spring planting. The UAF School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences developed the new grain.