Alaska News Nightly: January 16, 2014

Individual news stories are posted on the APRN news page. You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via emailpodcast and RSS. Follow us on Facebook at and on Twitter @aprn.

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Senate Passes $1.1 Trillion Spending Bill

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington DC

The Senate this evening passed a $1.1 trillion spending bill that includes substantial funds for programs important to Alaska, including fisheries disaster relief and military spending.

Fewer Kids Going to Preschool in Alaska, Waiting Lists Long

Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage

The number of children attending preschool in Alaska is on the decline, according to a recent study by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Researchers say Alaska now ranks nearly last in the nation for preschool enrollment.

Tribal Councils Express Opposition To Permitting Bill

Alexandra Gutirrez, APRN – Juneau

More than 30 tribal organizations have come out in opposition to a permitting bill championed by Gov. Sean Parnell.

Despite Pipeline Progress, State Proceeds with Two Lines

Anne Hillman, APRN – Anchorage

Yesterday the state released details about the new deal that will replace the Alaska Gasline Inducement Act. It makes the state a partner in the development of a natural gas export line from the North Slope. But the government is also still moving ahead with their back-up plan, the Alaska Stand Alone Pipeline.

Railbelt Electric Companies May Undergo Changes

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

Alaska’s Railbelt electric companies are the sole users of the state’s main transmission lines that carry energy from the Bradley Lake hydropower project in Homer north to Fairbanks.  But changes are coming.  Managers of the state-owned portion of the line – called the Alaska Intertie – want to give independent power producers access to the system and some power company officials want to bring the entire grid under a single owner – operator model.

60-Foot Tug Sinks Near Wrangell

The Associated Press

State conservation officials say a 60-foot tug sank in about 120 feet of water near Wrangell.

Authorities say the Silver Bay II was found missing Tuesday during a routine dock check by representatives of the Silver Bay Logging facility about five miles south of Wrangell.

The tug was estimated to have about 3,500 gallons of diesel fuel on board. The tug had been tied to the dock for five years, and much of the fuel had been removed during that time.

There’s a light sheen in the area, but no reported impact to wildlife. The Coast Guard is investigating.

Stedman Says Hydro Funds Tight, Otter Bill Will Change

Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau

Sitka Senator Bert Stedman says he’ll continue pursuing legislation to aid sea otter hunters. But this year, it will be different.

With Loss Of Dock, Gustavus Residents Worry About Tourist Season

Lisa Phu, KTOO – Juneau

Tuesday’s storm in Southeast caused a state-owned breakwater in Gustavus to dislodge from its pilings and wash ashore on the beach. The 200-foot steel structure also serves as a popular floating dock facility for local residents running charter fishing and whale watching boats. Gustavus residents are wondering what this means for their tourist season.

Cameras Capture Northern Migration

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

Scientists using time lapse photography have documented the migration of caribou and ptarmigan in northern Alaska. The project employed automated cameras to capture thousands of images of spring in the northern foothills of the Brooks Range.