Alaska News Nightly: December 1, 2009

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DC Moves to Protect Belugas in Cook Inlet
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
The federal government wants to designate a large portion of Cook Inlet as critical habitat for the area’s genetically distinct beluga whale population. The proposal kicks off a 60 day public comment period on the plan. Interested groups are sure to weigh in on the controversial issue.

Officials Still Unsure of Oil Spill Cause
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Officials still don’t know what caused a pipeline leak at the Flint Hills North Pole Refinery last week.  About 3,000 gallons of oily water is estimated to have escaped from the ruptured six-inch line. Department of Environmental Conservation incident manager Paul Lotka says the pipeline failure may be related to extreme weather.

Pebble Case Moving Forward in State Court
Adam Kane, KDLG – Dillingham
A case challenging the massive Pebble mine project will move forward in state court.

Fairbanks Man Qualifies for Civilian Response Corps
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
A Fairbanks man is working for a new US government nation building program.  Harry Bader, a former Alaska Department of Natural Resources official is the first of 93 members certified for foreign service in the Civilian Response Corps Active.  The Corps is a recently added component of the US Agency for International Development, a government arm formed to facilitate reconstruction after World War II.

SE Healthcare Executive Working for Quake Victims in Sumatra
Robert Woolsey, KCAW – Sitka
A former healthcare executive in Southeast Alaska has had to cut short his retirement. Mark Gorman was expecting a little time off this fall, but nature had other plans. Gorman’s last day of work for SEARCH was September 30. About a week later, the former vice president of Community Health was working in Padang, Sumatra, providing relief to earthquake victims.

Fewer Cruise Ships Caught Polluting
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
Fewer cruise ships were caught polluting the air during the 2009 tourist season. Alaska’s Environmental Conservation Department issued violation notices to three ships last summer. That’s down from 10 the previous year. But they were a little more than the zero to two issued the previous six years. Cruise Ship Program Manager Denise Koch says the violations note the density of air emissions.

Tribal Reprsentatives to Meet with Interior Officials in Anchorage
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Tribal representatives are preparing for tomorrow’s gathering in Anchorage with Interior Department officials. It will be the first meeting in a series with tribes across the country to aid Obama officials in writing new policy for consultation between the federal government and tribes. The Alaska Intertribal Council held their annual meeting yesterday and today. Executive Director Brad Garness says more than 120 tribes have representatives in Anchorage today. He says the message he will carry to DOI officials from the tribes is a statement that was passed by AITC members nearly 15 years ago.

Oyster and Clam Farmers Form Cooperative
Deanna Garrison, KRBD – Ketchikan
A group of oyster and clam farmers on Prince of Wales Island have formed a cooperative. The cooperative plans to take over operation of Naukati’s shellfish nursery and would eventually manage a shellfish processing facility the community hopes to construct in the future.

Native Groups Oppose SE Mining Development
Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau
Native groups have formally declared their opposition to a large mining development near the Southeast Alaska village of Yakutat.