Alaska News Nightly: Tuesday, Feb. 28, 2017

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EPA budget cut could slow permits, slash grants

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

President Trump reportedly wants the EPA budget cut 25 percent. There’s no word yet on where exactly the budget ax will fall, but Alaska has a lot at stake: The state received $78 million last year from the EPA in grants and contracts.

Committee weighs cutting school debt payments

Andrew Kitchenman, KTOO – Juneau

Alaskans would pay more in property taxes if the state government cuts the amount it pays to offset the debt to build schools. A House committee included a nearly fifty million dollar cut in state aid during a step in writing the state budget Tuesday.

State demands Hilcorp monitor environmental impact of Cook Inlet gas leak

Annie Feidt, Alaska’s Energy Desk – Anchorage

The state is asking oil and gas company Hilcorp to dramatically step up environmental monitoring near a natural gas leak in Cook Inlet.

Alaska Jewish community center among bomb-threat targets

Associated Press

An Anchorage Jewish community center is among those targeted in a wave of bomb threats around the country.

Dalton Highway closures remain

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

The Dalton Highway remains closed through Atigun Pass in the Brooks Range. Alaska Department of Transportation northern region spokeswoman Meadow Bailey says gates were lowered late Monday, closing off the road between mileposts 241 and 247, as heavy snow and high winds heightened avalanche conditions.

Wasilla man dies in snowmachine crash near Talkeetna

Associated Press

A 19-year-old Wasilla man died after apparently crashing his snowmachine in the Talkeetna Mountains.

New drug bag could help public health officials

Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau

Alaska has another tool in the fight against opioid abuse. Public health officials are distributing thousands of drug-disposal bags that are safe and easy to use.

Homer City Council votes down ‘inclusivity’ resolution

Shahla Farzan. KBBI – Homer

Homer City Council heard a resolution on Monday that would have officially expressed the town’s commitment to fighting discrimination and maintaining a safe, inclusive city. Dozens of residents turned out to provide public testimony, highlighting sharp divides within the community.

Juneau’s electric utility says natural gas not in the plans anymore

Elizabeth Jenkins, Alaska’s Energy Desk – Juneau

Juneau’s privately-owned electric utility won’t be bringing natural gas to the capital city anytime soon. Alaska Electric Light & Power is owned by the Washington-based company Avista, which had shown interest in shipping liquefied natural gas from British Columbia to Juneau.

Ocean acidification in Southeast, tribal network seeks regional impact

Aaron Bolton, KSTK – Wrangell

Ocean acidification has been big news lately. Experts have spoken about the possible consequences for shellfish and the critters that eat them but, its actual impact in Southeast Alaska is not known. Southeast Alaska Tribal Ocean Research, a network of 15 Southeast tribes, hopes to answer that question.

Descendants gather to welcome Chirikof ancestors home

Kayla Desroches, KMXT – Kodiak

After years of work, ancestral remains from a 19th century settlement on Chirikof Island have returned home. In the 1960s, archaeologists removed the bones from Chirikof, which is located southwest of Kodiak Island, and since then the majority of the bones have been stored and studied at Indiana University Bloomington.