Alaska News Nightly: July 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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Tuck Fined $14,000 For Campaign Finance Violations

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Anchorage

The minority leader of the State House has agreed to pay a major fine for mismanaging campaign funds. Rep. Chris Tuck, an Anchorage Democrat, acknowledged that he mixed up his campaign contributions with his personal savings and failed to make accurate and timely disclosures.

Kerry Names Ex-Coast Guard Boss Special Rep to Arctic

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington DC

Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday named former Coast Guard commandant Robert Papp as special representative to the Arctic. Kerry created the new position to elevate Arctic issues in America’s foreign policy and national security strategy as the U.S. prepares to assume the chair of the Arctic Council.

Murkowski Joins Democrats on Vote for Birth Control Coverage

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington DC

A U.S. Senate bill requiring companies to cover birth control in employee healthcare plans failed a procedural vote Wednesday. Both Alaska senators voted for the bill, aimed at undoing the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case. Sen. Lisa Murkowski was one of only three Republicans to vote for the measure, dubbed the “Not My Boss’s Business Act.” It fell four votes short of the 60 needed to proceed.

Judge Blocks Law Limiting Medicaid Payments For Abortion

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Anchorage

A superior court judge in Anchorage has blocked a law restricting Medicaid payments for abortion from going into effect.

Authorities Investigate Explosion in Petersburg

Joe Viechnicki, KFSK – Petersburg

Details are emerging about an explosion that injured a Petersburg person over the weekend and has brought federal explosives agents there to investigate.

Permitting Officials Explore Alternatives For Donlin Gold Mine

Ben Matheson, KYUK – Bethel

Donlin Gold is in a multiyear permitting process for the proposed gold mine located north of Crooked Creek about 120 miles upriver from Bethel. Scientists and engineers are now studying not just Donlin’s proposed plan, but several variations that would significantly change the mine.

Alaska LNG Project Community Meeting Provides Questions and Hope

Anne Hillman, KSKA – Anchorage

The Alaska LNG Project hosted a community meeting in Anchorage on Tuesday night. About 90 people listened to an explanation of the newest version of a plan to get natural gas from the North Slope to market.

Fall Chum Season Opens on the Yukon

Matthew Smith, KNOM – Nome

The fall chum salmon season on the Yukon begins Wednesday.

Arctic Climate Researchers Zoom in on Plankton

Lauren Rosenthal, KUCB – Unalaska

They’re not recognizable like polar bears or whales. But phytoplankton are a key part of life in the Arctic – and now, they’re at the center of a new research effort to predict how the region will respond to climate change.

Scientists Find Climate Cooling Effect in Ancient Thermokarst Lakes

Emily Schwing, KUAC – Fairbanks

Scientists have long believed melting permafrost emits large amounts of carbon-rich greenhouse gases like methane and carbon dioxide to the atmosphere resulting in a warming climate.  But a new study published online by the journal Nature today indicates ancient lakes that formed after permafrost in the Arctic first melted roughly ten thousand years ago may in fact have a net climate cooling effect over long time scales.  The study also increases the total amount of carbon estimated in the frozen soils of the Far North by more than 50 percent.