Alaska News Nightly: September 26, 2011

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Former Crew Members Attempted to Turn in Fuglvog

Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC

When Senator Murkowski’s fisheries aide pulled out from consideration for an influential job in the Obama Administration two years ago, he said it was because the process was taking too long.  It turns out Arne Fuglvog was under investigation by the very agency he would have run.

Fuglvog pleaded guilty last month to breaking commercial fishing law before joining Murkowki’s staff.  His admission shook the commercial fishing industry in Alaska, where Fuglvog had served on influential councils.

Now, former crew members are coming forward saying they tried to turn Fuglvog in to authorities for years, and felt like they were ignored.

Upgrades Could Enable Pipeline to Safely Operate Below 500,000 Barrel Capacity

Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage

A new study on the Trans Alaska Pipeline System has an optimistic take on the problem of declining oil in the pipeline. At its peak, the pipeline had 2 million barrels of oil a day flowing through it. But today, it averages 600,000 barrels and that rate is declining. The new report was paid for by the environmental group Natural Resources Defense Council. It shows once throughput drops below 500,000 barrels a day, ice and wax can accumulate in the pipeline, but there are relatively easy fixes for the problems. Lois Epstein is an engineer who works for The Wilderness Society and reviewed the study.

With the upgrades, NRDC estimates the pipeline could operate safely for another three decades.  The NRDC report is a critique of a study released in June by Alyeska Pipeline Service Company which operates TAPS. The two documents agree on many points. But the Alyeska report highlighted the challenges of retrofitting the pipeline to handle the colder oil. In contrast, the NRDC report makes the case that those changes will be well worth it in the long run.

Alyeska says their report shows it’s much easier to increase the amount of oil in the pipeline than retrofitting it to handle lower flows. But Alyeska spokesperson Michelle Egan says the company can’t wait for that to happen. She says they are already making some changes. But she hopes the company won’t have to make the extensive adjustments necessary at very low flow rates:

The two reports disagree on how quickly TAPS will fall below 500,000 barrels a day. NRDC estimates it won’t happen until 2024, while Alyeska puts the date much earlier, around 2016.

Natural Gas One Step Closer to Anchor Point

Aaron Selbig, KBBI – Homer

Residents of Anchor Point are one step closer to connecting their homes to natural gas. At their meeting in Homer Tuesday night, members of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly voted to approve a USAD – or Utility Special Assessment District –to finance distribution lines throughout the town.

Alaska Airlines Execs Field Suggestions from Bethel Residents

Shane Iverson, KYUK – Bethel

An entourage of Alaska Airlines executives and upper managers were in Bethel as part of a rural tour to learn more about the customers in their back yard.  Participants at the Bethel Chamber of Commerce meeting told the airline officials what they liked, and didn’t like, about flying with the airline. The trip took place last month, but some of the changes they discussed could be seen in the future.

Owner: Theft of Gear More Than a Minor Crime

Ed Ronco, KCAW – Sitka

A man whose camping gear was stolen while he was in a remote bay near Sitka says the crime was much more than a simple theft. And friends are offering a reward for information that leads to an arrest.

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