Alaska News Nightly: Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2016

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State officials not thrilled about new federal beluga plan

Rachel Waldholz, Alaska’s Energy Desk – Anchorage

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has released its final plan to increase the population of Cook Inlet’s beluga whales and get them off the endangered species list.

Kenai Borough Assembly upholds invocation policy

Shahla Farzan, KBBI – Homer

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly is standing behind their controversial invocation policy.

Counterfeit prescription drug found in Alaska contained fentanyl

Anne Hillman, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage

Late last month the state’s crime lab confirmed that a counterfeit prescription opioid tablet was found in Alaska. The small blue pill looked like a generic oxycodone tablet but was actually made of the much stronger drug fentanyl.

Eklutna reaches deal with Anchorage over trash gas and new housing

Zachariah Hughes, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage

The Municipality of Anchorage has reached an agreement with a local native corporation — avoiding years of costly litigation. During a press conference today, leaders from both the city and Eklutna Incorporated shared details of the multi-part agreement, which include promises of new housing stock, infrastructure, and cash for natural gas produced at the Anchorage landfill.

Study finds disturbing trend in mortality rate in Kusilvak Census Area

Anna Rose MacArthur, KYUK – Bethel

The rate of suicide and homicide in the Kusilvak Census Area, located along the lower Yukon River, more than doubled since 1980, a rate increase higher than anywhere else in the nation.

Fairbanks Interior Gas utility close to merging with Fairbanks Natural Gas

Robert Hannon, KUAC – Fairbanks

Fairbanks’ Interior Gas Utility is moving closer to inking a memorandum of understanding with the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority to acquire and merge operations with Fairbanks Natural Gas. The North Star Borough-formed IGU is gathering public feedback on the deal, which would also expand the local distribution network.

While GOP runs from House ethics flap, Young argues watchdog needs tighter rules

Liz Ruskin, Alaska Public Media – Washington D.C.

Republicans have dropped their plan to diminish the independence of the Office of Congressional Ethics. But not everyone agrees the House majority should have backed down. Alaska Congressman Don Young is among those who want the ethics office reined in.

Legal haze clouds cannabis for pets

Tom Banse, Northwest News Network – Portland, OR

After the results of the November election, more than half of U.S. states have now authorized medical marijuana. And eight of those states also allow recreational marijuana. So if pot helps some humans feel better, then how about people’s best friends?

CB300 Preview

Molly Rettig, KUAC – Fairbanks

Last week’s big snowstorm improved trail conditions over a large swath of the interior, but not every area benefitted. Organizers of the Copper Basin 300 Sled Dog Race are still dealing with low snow, and that’s altered the race route for the season’s first big mid distance event.

Scientists: Ash cloud from Alaska volcano has dissipated

Associated Press

Scientists say an ash cloud from a remote Alaska volcano that might have gone more than 6 miles into the atmosphere has dissipated after it was tracked north over the Bering Sea.

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