Alaska News Nightly: January 7, 2010

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Download Audio Legislature to Consider Blocking Utilities for Passing Along Certain Costs
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
A bill ready to be introduced to the legislature on Friday  for consideration this year would prevent utilities from billing customers for losses due to the company’s own negligence,  recklessness or violation of the law. It is a response to Enstar Natural Gas Company’s decision to charge users for the money it needed to reimburse Fort
Richardson after discovering a $6 million billing error.

Bill Would Affect Public Assistance
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
Another legislative bill already under scrutiny could have wide ranging effects for state residents on public assistance.

Charter Owners Promoting More Halibut Reductions on Commercial Fishing
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
Charter owners are floating a pair of proposals that would further reduce the commercial halibut catch. Longliners say the plans would put them out of business. The proposals go before the International Pacific Halibut Commission later this month.

Shell Clears Another Hurdle to Begin Exploring Chukchi
The Associated Press
Shell oil company has cleared another hurdle in its quest to explore for oil off Alaska’s northwest coast.  Alaska Sen. Mark Begich (D) said on Thursday that the Environmental Protection Agency approved Shell’s air quality permit for exploration in the
Chukchi Sea. The permit is one of the last administrative steps needed before final approval for drilling in the Chukchi is granted.

White House Honors Alaskan Educators
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
Two Anchorage-area Alaskan educators were honored at the White House on Wednesday for their work as science and math teachers. Laura Ann Hulsebus of Eagle River and Cheryl Silcox, formerly of White Mountain, were selected as recipients of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

Libraries Adding Video Game Collections
Jeremy Hsieh, KTOO – Juneau
A national trend of adding video games to public library collections took root in Juneau in early 2009, which followed similar additions in Fairbanks and Anchorage middle schools.

NOAA Has New Tool for Tracking Fish
Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientists will be working with a new tool to track fish in Southeast Alaska this spring. In April, scientists at NOAA’s Auke Bay Laboratories in Juneau plan to use an autonomous underwater vehicle, or AUV, capable of detecting and recording tagged fish at various depths.

Copper Basin 300 Starts Sled Dog Season
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The season’s first big mid-distance sled dog race gets underway Saturday in Glennallen. Thirty five mushers are signed up so far for the Copper Basin 300, including defending champion Lance Mackey of Fairbanks, 1995 winner Jeff King of Denali Park, and three- time past champion Allen Moore of Two Rivers.

New York Times Features Seldovia Couple and Their Yurt
Aaron Selbig, KBBI – Homer
Bret Higman and Erin McKittrick might become Seldovia’s most famous residents. The couple – who live in a yurt off Jackalof Bay Road with their eleven-month-old baby – were the subject last week of a New York Times feature article on rustic living.

Russian Orthodox Celebrate Christmas
Adam Kane, KDLG – Dillingham
While many Christians in the western world celebrated Christmas two weeks ago on December 25th, followers of the Russian Orthodox Church here in rural Alaska are celebrating Thursday.