Alaska New Nightly: January 27, 2015

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Obama Withdraws 9.8m Acres of Arctic Ocean

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington DC

President Obama is withdrawing 9.8 million acres of the Beaufort and Chukchi seas from future oil and gas lease sales. Today’s announcement comes in conjunction with the Department of Interior’s draft five-year offshore plan. Sen. Lisa Murkowski has already described it as a gut punch to Alaska’s economy. Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell, though, says the withdrawals are limited to small areas of the Beaufort, a 25-mile buffer along the Chukchi Coast and the area around the Hanna Shoal, northwest of Barrow.

Invoices, Invitations, Litigation, and Even Secession: Walker Says All Responses Possible To Arctic Drilling Decision

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau

Alaska lawmakers have described the new protections for the Arctic as an act of war against the state. Now the governor wants to shoot some volleys of his own.

Cook Inlet Gas Considered To Relieve Interior Alaska’s Energy Costs

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

State and local leaders are trying to determine if natural gas from Cook Inlet is a viable option for interior’s need for a lower cost, cleaner energy source. At issue are some of the same costs that derailed an earlier focus to bring in North Slope gas.

Sullivan: Alaskans Dream Big, Breathe Air ‘Bathed in Promise’

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington DC

In his first Senate speech, U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan today spoke in support of the Keystone Pipeline. He likened it to the tie vote in the Senate over the Trans-Alaska Pipeline in 1973.

Proposed ASD budget includes 24 new teachers

Anne Hillman, KSKA – Anchorage

The Anchorage School District’s proposed $770 million budget for next year includes 24 new teaching positions. It’s a drastic change from previous years’ cuts and this year’s initial feared shortfall.

Delta To Add Year-Round Competition In Juneau, Fairbanks

Lisa Phu, KTOO – Juneau

Delta Air Lines will fly year-round between Juneau and Seattle starting in May. This is a change from just offering flights during the summer, and could signal more Delta service coming to the state in the future.

Unalaska Locals Hope Proposed Watershed Fixes Are First of Many

Annie Ropeik, KUCB – Unalaska

Unalaska Lake and the Iliuliuk River run through the heart of Unalaska. The watershed used to be habitat for thousands of salmon. But after decades of development and little consideration for containing runoff, that fish population seems to be on the decline.

This week, after months of public debate, Unalaska’s city council will take a first look at one million dollars of mitigation projects. Residents hope it’s the first step down a path to recovery.

Walker Says Rupert Terminal Will Be Rebuilt

Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau

Gov. Bill Walker says he’ll continue pushing for construction of a new ferry terminal in Prince Rupert, British Columbia.

AMHS To Close Ferry Bar Service This Winter

Leila Kheiry, KRBD – Ketchikan

The Alaska Marine Highway System is closing bars on state ferries, a move that state Department of Transportation officials say will save about $750,000 a year.