Alaska News Nightly: Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017

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Rep. Young joins motley cannabis caucus

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

Alaska Congressman Don Young says he’s never smoked marijuana. But Young says he wants to change federal law to help marijuana entrepreneurs do business. The issue has Young joining forces with congressmen of different stripes.

U.S. House lifts restrictions on predator hunting in Alaska refuges

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

On Thursday (Feb. 16), the U.S. House approved a bill to lift Obama administration restrictions on hunting and trapping of bears, wolves and other predators on federal wildlife refuges in Alaska.

Walker orders state agencies to pursue grants to fight opioid epidemic

Andrew Kitchenman, KTOO – Juneau

Governor Bill Walker took action this week to try to stem the epidemic of overdose deaths from heroin and other opioid drugs. Walker signed a disaster declaration that’s intended to make it easier to give overdose victims the life-saving antidote naloxone.

Lobbyist tax gets pushback in Alaska state House

Caroline Halter, KTOO – Juneau

State Rep. Sam Kito III wants to close a $200,000 funding gap at the Alaska Public Offices Commission (APOC), which oversees the activities of candidates, political groups and lobbyists.

Can home wood pellet boilers go from fringe to mainstream?

Elizabeth Jenkins, Alaska’s Energy Desk – Juneau

The Ketchikan airport has one. So does the Walter Sobeloff Building in downtown Juneau. Now, a fringe group of homeowners are installing wood pellet boilers to heat their homes. Not to be confused with wood burning stoves, these boilers have been marketed as a cheaper alternative to heating oil, at least in the long run. But is the framework there to make the technology go mainstream?

Ask a Climatologist: This winter’s alarming record low Arctic sea ice

Annie Feidt, Alaska’s Energy Desk – Anchorage

During a normal winter sea ice grows quickly in the Arctic Ocean, filling up nearly the entire ocean basin. This year though, unusually warm weather and storms are keeping the sea ice extent at record lows.

Yukon Quest rookie mushes in at 7th place

Molly Rettig, KUAC – Fairbanks

The top rookie in this year’s Yukon Quest crossed the finish line in Fairbanks yesterday. Katherine Keith of Kotzebue arrived just before noon Wednesday (Feb. 15), with ten dogs to claim Rookie of the Year honors. Keith has run the Iditarod three times, but this was her first Yukon Quest.

Adventure is the profit: the economics of dog handling 

Zachariah Hughes, Alaska Public Media – Anchorage

Behind many of the world’s top mushing champions is an army of cheap, semi-skilled labor. Dog handlers. Across Alaska, handlers play a pivotal role. They manage sprawling kennels and help train sled-dogs for competition.