Alaska News Nightly: April 7, 2010

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BP and ConocoPhillips File Pipeline Plan
Steve Heimel, APRN – Anchorage
BP and Conoco-Phillips filed a natural gas pipeline plan with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission  or FERC on Wednesday and plan to take bids from gas shippers, including themselves, beginning in July. They call their plan the Denali project. The other major shipper, Exxon-Mobil, is part of a competing pipeline project with Trans Canada.  A separate Open Season plan for that project was approved by FERC a week ago, and begins at the end of this month.

Parnell Lays Out Priorities for Closing Days
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Governor Parnell on Wednesday presented what’s important to him before the end of session – scheduled now for April 18th. Parnell said his focus during the next eleven days will be a list of bills that he says are necessary for the state’s economy.  He outlined them in a letter to legislative leaders on Wednesday. He wants: oil tax credits, a reduction in the tourism head tax, a suspension of the state gasoline tax; a new performance-based scholarship program, and a capital budget that includes money for maintenance work needed on state properties.

Michigan Man Moves to AK to Start a Militia
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
Norman Olson is a former teacher, preacher and gun salesman.  The Nikiski resident transplanted his family and a few friends from Michigan several years ago, to take up root in Alaska.  This in itself is not unusual, as many disenchanted with life in the Lower 48 travel North to seek a new start.  What is unusual is that Olson came here to start an
independent Alaska militia. His group has ties to militias on a national hate watch list.

Some Experts Think Pollock Stocks Affected by Warming Temps
Anne Hillman, KUCB – Unalaska
Fisheries experts say the northward move of pollock stocks in the Bering Sea may not be good news for the fishery.  The fish may not get the best nutrition and that could impair the recruitment and even survival of younger fish. The fish are thought to be changing their range due to warming ocean temperatures.

Fairbanks Man Promoting New Solar Lens
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
A Fairbanks man has invented a solar focusing lens technology that promises more efficient, lower cost energy collection. Inventor John Pender says the idea is to use tiny prisms to direct and concentrate the sun. Pender patented the prism lens three years ago, and his company Goldstream Solar recently received a federal small business innovation research grant to make prototypes of the solar concentration lenses.  Pender says the liquid crystal prisms enable a fixed panel to achieve what’s only been possible in the past with large expensive lenses and mechanized solar tracking systems.

Anchorage Assembly Decided – Almost
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
The Anchorage Assembly will have three new members thanks to yesterday’s municipal election. Dick Traini, Paul Honeman and Ernie Hall won the approval of voters. But Traini was leading Andy Clary by less than 200 votes this afternoon. The last batch of absentee ballots won’t be tallied until April 16th. Long-time political writer and columnist Michael Carey has been following the action. He says he expects Traini to hold on to his lead. And he doesn’t think the election will change much– in city government.

Raptor Center Releases Eagles
Ed Ronco, KCAW – Sitka
The Alaska Raptor Center released four eagles last weekend – three juveniles and an adult. Releasing four at a time is fairly rare. The Raptor Center has been treating eagles for 30 years, and its regular eagle releases often draw spectators. The moment an
eagle flies away is the beginning of a second chance for the bird, and the end of a long process for the center’s staff and volunteers.