Alaska News

Judge Allows Gay Marriages To Continue In Alaska

APRN Alaska News - Tue, 2014-10-14 18:00

A federal court judge has denied a request from the state of Alaska to put gay marriages on hold until an appeal is heard.

U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Burgess denied the state’s request for a stay on Tuesday, two days after he struck down the state’s ban on gay marriage as unconstitutional.

The state intends to appeal that decision to the 9th Circuit Court. The state could also ask that court to delay gay marriages from going forward but the court has allowed marriages to continue in other states within its jurisdiction.

A message left with the state attorney’s office after hours Tuesday wasn’t immediately returned.

Gay couples began applying for marriage licenses on Monday, triggering a three-day wait period. But in at last two cases, couples were granted waivers of the rule and were married in Barrow.

Categories: Alaska News

Feds Seek Dismissal of King Cove Lawsuit

APRN Alaska News - Tue, 2014-10-14 17:59

Arguments have been scheduled on the federal government’s request to dismiss a lawsuit over the Interior Department’s refusal to allow for a road from King Cove to an all-weather airport at Cold Bay.

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Government attorneys say the decision by Interior Secretary Sally Jewell was reached after five years of environmental analysis and public outreach. They say Jewell wasn’t obligated to approve a road and her decision is owed deference by a federal judge.

The state joined the city of King Cove, tribal governments and individuals in challenging Jewell’s denial of a road through Izembek [EYE'-zem-bek] National Wildlife Refuge that could improve access to emergency flights.

Arguments on the motion to dismiss are set for Monday in Anchorage.

Categories: Alaska News

More Big Thorne Timber Sales Announced

APRN Alaska News - Tue, 2014-10-14 17:56

Clear-cuts and old-growth forests are part of the view of Indian Valley on Prince of Wales Island. The Forest Service just announced three more timber sales in the Island’s Big Thorne area. (Creative Commons photo by Nick Bonzey)

The Forest Service plans three more timber sales in a part of Prince of Wales Island conservationists say needs to be protected. They’re much smaller than a recent sale in the same area.

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The sales are between Thorne Bay and Coffman Cove, on northeast Prince of Wales Island. They’re part of the larger Big Thorne sale area, which is tied up with court challenges.

Officials recently sold nearly 100 million board feet of Big Thorne timber to Viking Lumber, Southeast Alaska’s largest mill. Tongass National Forest Supervisor Forrest Cole says the three smaller sales total less than 5 percent of that amount.

“There’s a fairly significant number of small operators on Prince of Wales and these projects have been set up specifically for them,” Cole says.

The smaller mills have lobbied the Forest Service for sales they can afford to bid on. Cole says the goal is to help keep them operating.

“They are larger than typical sales that they deal with. But the concept for these projects is similar to the Big Thorne, to try to get a longer-term amount of wood to the smaller operators,” he says.

Several conservation groups have sued to block sales in the Big Thorne area. One is Greenpeace, where Sitka’s Larry Edwards is Alaska forest campaigner.

“We think that the whole Big Thorne sale needs to be set aside and legal matters decided before any sales are made at all,” Edwards says.

Others involved include the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, the Alaska Wilderness League, the Greater Southeast Alaska Conservation Community and the Center for Biological Diversity. They say Big Thorne sales will hurt deer and wolf populations.

Gov. Sean Parnell’s administration has filed to become involved in the legal battle. The state fears the Forest Service will not adequately defend its decisions.

While the sales are designed for smaller mills, Cole says there’s no guarantee they’ll get the trees.

“Everybody can put in a bid in on it. These are being put out as timber sales contracts, so the highest bidder wins. Given that the larger operator just picked up about 100 million [board] feet, we suspect there will probably be less interest there and more interest by the smaller operators,” he says.

Some small mills have expressed doubts about the bidding process for all the sales. Tongass officials won’t release contract details for the larger sale until it’s signed.

The Forest Service estimates the three small sales’ value at $750,000. They were advertised in the Oct. 4 Ketchikan Daily News. Bids are due in early November.

“These projects are all old growth and off the existing road systems. We’ve got about 2,300 acres of young growth that we intend to put up at a later date. It’s in a form of commercial thinning and we have not got to that point yet,” he says.

While the Forest Service is moving ahead with the sales, it’s promised to delay logging until next spring. Cole says that should be enough time to address the court challenges.

But Greenpeace’s Edwards says it’s not a done deal.

“We haven’t heard from the court yet if they’ve agreed to the April 1st date, so there’s still a question mark there. But if there’s no activity on any of these projects until a decision is made by the court, that’s certainly a plus,” he says.

The sales are the 500,000-board-foot Buck Rush, the 1.6-million-board-foot Last Stand and the 2.3-million-board-foot In Between.

For reference, Cole says about 10,000 board feet can go into a good-sized house. And 25,000 to 30,000 board feet of old-growth trees can be logged per acre, which about the size of a football field.

Categories: Alaska News

Groups Criticize State For Renewal Of Wishbone Hill Coal Mining Permit

APRN Alaska News - Tue, 2014-10-14 17:55

A coalition of environmental organizations are criticizing the state for issuing a coal mining permit for a site near Palmer.

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 The Alaska Department of Natural Resources issued a renewal of permits for Usibelli Coal’s proposed Wishbone Hill mine on October 3. Russell Kirkham, director of the state’s coal regulatory program, says the permit is DNR’s final decision

“What the state did was finalize the renewal request by Usibelli Coal Mine to renew their two Wishbone Hill surface coal mining permits for an additional five year permit term.”

 The final decision allows Usibelli to operate the mine. The company has been awaiting the state go ahead since it applied for permit renewal in 2011.

The Mat Valley Coalition issued a statement on Monday, expressing disappointment in the move. According to the coalition’s Liz Allard, the state is ignoring the wishes of Alaskans.

“In 2011, DNR hosted a hearing here in the Valley, and over 200 people turned out in opposition of the Wishbone Hill mine. And then fast forward to earlier this year, when Usibelli was seeking approval of their air quality permit for the third time and over 500 people submitted public comment in opposition to the air quality permit, only the Department of Environmenta Conservation approved the permit in June. “

 Usibelli vice president of business development Rob Brown said in an email that the permit was originally obtained in 1991, and that Usibelli acquired it in 1997 and has maintained the permit and the coal leases since then. Usibelli began the permit renewal process for Wishbone Hill in 2011.

 Brown says the Wishbone Hill coal is slated for export to Asian markets from Port MacKenzie. A feasibility study completed in 2011 was based on producing 500,000 tons of coal annually.

DNR’s Kirkham says the final decision on the permit allows an appeals process, in which a person adversely affected can request a hearing before a hearing officer. The deadline for a hearing request is November 3.

 Allard says the Mat Valley Coalition has not decided what to do yet.

 The Wishbone Hill permit has been a source of contention among area residents for several years. Allard says the population of the area has grown since 1991, and some homeowners in the area complain of health hazards from coal dust to children and elderly, while an elementary school operated by the Chickaloon Tribe is close to a road access to the proposed mine. Supporters of the mine say it will provide jobs for the community.

Categories: Alaska News

Community-Based Solutions For Coastal Erosion Discussed In Anchorage

APRN Alaska News - Tue, 2014-10-14 17:54

As climate change brings new threats to subsistence communities across Alaska’s coastlines, a conference held in Anchorage is advocating community-based solutions, and not waiting any longer for government assistance.

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Categories: Alaska News

Fish & Game Releases Upper Cook Inlet Commercial Salmon Fishing Summary

APRN Alaska News - Tue, 2014-10-14 17:53

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has released its summary report for the 2014 commercial salmon fishing season. Continued low king salmon numbers and new management tools were at the heart of this year’s fishing.

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Categories: Alaska News

UAF Vice Chancellor Visits Bristol Bay Campus

APRN Alaska News - Tue, 2014-10-14 17:52

The man who oversees all of the rural campuses of the University of Alaska Fairbanks has been touring those campuses since being appointed to the job back in July. Evon Peter visited the Bristol Bay Campus last week.

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Categories: Alaska News

Juneau Non-Profit Bridges Spanish Language Gap

APRN Alaska News - Tue, 2014-10-14 17:51

About 5 percent of Juneau’s population identifies as Hispanic. Some are non-English speaking immigrants who need help translating official documents or government forms. Others require assistance navigating the Alaska Court System. A national nonprofit that started a Juneau branch last year now offers Spanish translation and interpretation services in Juneau. Piedra de Ayuda, or A Helping Rock, began as a homeless outreach program on the East Coast.

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A Latin American immigrant moved to Juneau recently with her boyfriend and met a local man who helped her get settled and find an apartment. She claims he asked to live with her family temporarily, and then things went downhill.

“Tuesday he was a good man, Wednesday he was a good man, Friday he was a good man, but Saturday he was a monster,” the woman says in Spanish.

We’ve omitted her name due to the ongoing nature of her case, which involves accusations of domestic abuse and sexual assault. She claims the local man was often drunk and abusive.

“I was afraid,” she says. “Because, I said, ‘What if he kills me? What do I do?’ Because he said he was going to make me disappear.”

She needed a protective order from the courts, but her English was limited.

“She didn’t know her way around and basically was harassed by this man because of the lack of the language,” says Wanda Peña. “She couldn’t communicate with anybody, so she ended up going to the courthouse and they provided her with our number and she immediately called.”

Peña is a volunteer with Piedra de Ayuda, a national nonprofit that started a Juneau branch last year and now offers Spanish translation and interpretation services. Peña helped the woman fill out paperwork and interpreted for her in court.

New Jersey native Eddy Reyes helped found Piedra de Ayuda, or A Helping Rock. It began as a homeless outreach program on the East Coast and is now based in Florida. After he moved to Juneau, Reyes started a local branch. He says government agencies like the Division of Motor Vehicles had not provided many language services in the capital city.

“Because there’s not maybe an interpreter or they don’t understand the language there to fill out a form, suddenly someone had to walk out of there without a picture ID,” he says. “Cause of course, if you’re gonna try to get a job, you have to identify yourself. Well, how do you do that if you have no ID?”

Reyes says Piedra de Ayuda is made up entirely of volunteers. Since last year, the local branch has added seven board members and helped about 20 different clients.

Although the law requires courts to provide interpretation to people with limited English proficiency, nonprofit and commercial organizations that offer language assistance are rare in Alaska. Neil Nesheim is court administrator for Southeast. He says 60 to 70 percent of interpretation is done over speakerphone, which is not always the best option.

“Obviously it’s more effective to do it in person only because you get to see subtleties such as facial language, hand language, intonation and those sorts of things,” Nesheim says.

About 5 percent of Juneau’s population identifies as Hispanic. Some, like the woman Peña helped, don’t speak English and need help translating official documents and government forms, or navigating the Alaska Court System.

The woman says she’s grateful to Piedra de Ayuda.

“She came to help me so quickly,” the woman says. “They didn’t charge me anything. They were wonderful people.”

Categories: Alaska News

Arctic Native Ice Testing Stick Will Be Used On National Research Vessel

APRN Alaska News - Tue, 2014-10-14 17:50

Two people stand on the ice with their testing sticks, hooks visible at the top. The hook could be used to grab onto an article of clothing if someone fell into the water. (Photo courtesy of Gay Sheffield)

Conducting research at sea in Arctic, ice-filled conditions is a tricky endeavor, requiring a host of high-tech gear. But, on the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ new, ice-capable research vessel Sikuliaq, at least one piece of equipment dates back generations.

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In a few months, the ice-classed research vessel Sikuliaq, owned by the National Science Foundation, will be equipped with about a half dozen Arctic Native ice testing sticks as part of the ship’s safety outfit.

“It’s a multi-tool. Sometimes there’s a hook on the end for retrieving things, and the other end is used for poking the ice. It could be a harpoon with a rib bone, or some type of bone sticking out on the other end to test the ice,” said Brandon Ahmasuk, subsistence director at Kawerak. “Obviously, if it goes through, you don’t want to step there.”

Ahmasuk said it’s a highly valued safety tool for Alaskans who live in coastal communities and venture onto the ice for hunting in the winter. By testing the ice in their path with the stick, they can prevent accidentally falling through the weaker patches. He said his family always takes this tool with them on the ice because of its many functions.

“If you do happen to fall through, hopefully you can catch yourself before you fall past your waist and pull yourself back out,” said Ahmasuk. “If you do happen to fall all the way through, it’s still there, so you can pull yourself up like you’re doing a pull up. It’s a safety tool. They almost always have a dual function—whether it’s a harpoon, a retrieving hook, or a mooring hook.”

Ahmasuk said, fortunately, he has never fallen into the water, but he’s seen it happen to others, and it can be pretty terrifying.

“One of my brothers did fall in, and he said immediately it just took his breath away. He couldn’t breathe,” said Ahmasuk. “I mean, within a second he was able to pull himself out. A lot of times, individuals are out seal hunting or walrus hunting, and they’re miles and miles from the nearest town or village. So, if you do fall in, you’re going to be soaking wet. More than likely, you’re not going to make it back to wherever you came from because, within a matter of minutes, hypothermia is going to set in, and you’re going to freeze to death.”

The Sikuliaq is not an icebreaker, but it is an ice-classed vessel capable of breaking through up to two-and-a-half feet of ice. The vessel will operate in ice during some of its research missions in the Arctic—and scientists may be walking out on to the ice to collect data samples, which means they must be prepared for potentially dangerous situations.

Daniel Oliver is the marine superintendent at UAF’s Seward Marine Center. Oliver was in the U.S. Coast Guard before taking his current job at the Seward Marine Center, and he said it was through visits to coastal communities aboard Coast Guard icebreakers that he realized how functional and necessary the tool is. After consulting with Gay Sheffield, Marine Advisory agent in Nome, he decided to request those ice testing sticks as safety tools for the Sikuliaq.

“I found it was a pretty universal tool within the coastal communities, [with the people] that spend a good portion of their lives out on the ice with subsistence hunting,” said Oliver. “From talking with a number of folks from the villages, it certainly made sense to me. Which is why, when we were looking at what we were going to carry on board Sikuliaq for equipment, having this capability aboard made sense to me.”

Perry Pungowiyi is a craftsman in Savoonga, a member of the National Science Foundation Sikuliaq Oversight Committee and alternate commissioner on the Alaska Eskimo Whaling Commission for Savoonga. Pungowiyi will be making the sticks with materials Sheffield and Oliver have sent over to St. Lawrence Island. He said the tools are “time-tested by ice walkers of Alaska.” In Siberian Yupik, the name for the ice testing stick is “unghaq.”

Oliver said he hopes someone from Savoonga who is part of the ship’s science oversight committee will be able to join theSikuliaq crew at some point during ice trials, to share knowledge about the ice testing sticks and Bering Sea ice conditions.

The Sikuliaq, which is home-ported in Seward, will be used by U.S. and international scientists. Its first funded science trip this fall will be in the western Hawaiian island chain.

Categories: Alaska News

Alaska News Nightly: October 14, 2014

APRN Alaska News - Tue, 2014-10-14 17:09

Stories are posted on the APRN news page. You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via emailpodcast and RSS. Follow us on Facebook at alaskapublic.org and on Twitter @aprn

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Judge Denies Stay On Same-Sex Marriage Decision

Alaska Dispatch News

U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Burgess Tuesday denied the state of Alaska’s request for a stay in his decision overturning Alaska’s same-sex marriage ban. The Alaska Dispatch News reports Burgess’ denial means same-sex marriages in Alaska can continue.

Feds Seek Dismissal of King Cove Lawsuit

The Associated Press

Arguments have been scheduled on the federal government’s request to dismiss a lawsuit over the Interior Department’s refusal to allow for a road from King Cove to an all-weather airport at Cold Bay.

More Big Thorne Timber Sales Announced

Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau

The Forest Service plans three more timber sales in a part of Prince of Wales Island conservationists say needs to be protected. They’re much smaller than a recent sale in the same area.

Groups Criticize State For Renewal Of Wishbone Hill Coal Mining Permit

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

A coalition of environmental organizations are criticizing the state for issuing a coal mining permit for a site near Palmer.

Community-Based Solutions For Coastal Erosion Discussed In Anchorage

Zach Hughes, KSKA – Anchorage

As climate change brings new threats to subsistence communities across Alaska’s coastlines, a conference held in Anchorage is advocating community-based solutions, and not waiting any longer for government assistance.

Fish & Game Releases Commercial Salmon Fishing Summary

Shaylon Cochran, KDLL – Kenai

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has released its summary report for the 2014 commercial salmon fishing season. Continued low king salmon numbers and new management tools were at the heart of this year’s fishing.

UAF Vice Chancellor Visits Bristol Bay Campus

Mike Mason, KDLG – Dillingham

The man who oversees all of the rural campuses of the University of Alaska Fairbanks has been touring those campuses since being appointed to the job back in July.  Evon Peter visited the Bristol Bay Campus last week.

Juneau Non-Profit Bridges Spanish Language Gap

Kayla Deroches, KTOO – Juneau

About 5 percent of Juneau’s population identifies as Hispanic. Some are non-English speaking immigrants who need help translating official documents or government forms. Others require assistance navigating the Alaska Court System. A national nonprofit that started a Juneau branch last year now offers Spanish translation and interpretation services in Juneau. Piedra de Ayuda, or A Helping Rock, began as a homeless outreach program on the East Coast.

Arctic Native Ice Testing Stick Will Be Used On National Research Vessel

Jenn Ruckel, KNOM – Nome

Conducting research at sea in Arctic, ice-filled conditions is a tricky endeavor, requiring a host of high-tech gear. But, on the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ new, ice-capable research vessel Sikuliaq, at least one piece of equipment dates back generations.

Categories: Alaska News

Old Federal Building trees avoid the chopping block

APRN Alaska News - Tue, 2014-10-14 15:48

Two large spruce trees in front of the Old Federal Building in downtown Anchorage will not be cut down. The General Services Administration, which looks after the site, had planned to remove the more than 50-year-old trees. Administration officials said the trees were damaging the walls and the roots could hurt the foundation. They said the spruces needed to come down in order to preserve the building. After conducting a meeting where public sentiment was strongly against the plan, GSA concluded that tree removal was not necessary.

Categories: Alaska News

Same-sex couples apply for marriage licenses, State asks for a stay

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-10-13 17:49

After a federal judge decided Sunday that Alaska’s same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional, the State of Alaska started accepting applications for gay marriages this morning. But the state’s Attorney General is asking for a stay on that legal decision, which would put a hold on actually issuing any licenses.

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Courtney Lamb and Stephanie Pearson were part of the lawsuit seeking to overturn the gay marriage ban. They were first in line in Anchorage to apply for a license.

“Do you have an application?” the clerk inquired.

“Yes!” they replied in unison then started to process their paperwork.

Between giggles they took the oath and planned to pick up their license as soon as they could after the state’s mandatory three-day waiting period. That would be 8 am on Thursday morning.

Lamb and Pearson applying to marry. Hillman/KSKA

“What time is your wedding schedule?” I asked.

“8:30!”

Lamb and Pearson were joined at the front of the line by Ann Marie Garber and her fiance.

“It feels very surreal. I’ve been out since I was 17 and I had no idea this day would come in my life time.”

But whether or not the day actually comes depends on the state’s appeal for a stay. Attorney General Michael Geraghty says the ban should not be lifted yet because the law is in a state of flux.

“The cases around the country have gone off in different tangents in terms of finding these laws unconstitutional. It’s a bit of a smorgasbord, and that’s why I think ultimately the US Supreme Court is going to have to accept a case and decide this issue once and for all.”

The motion says a stay is in order “to avoid chaos in the administration of Alaska’s marriage laws pending ultimate resolution of this fundamental issue.”

Geraghty says the state wants a larger panel of 9th Circuit judges to hear the case. He says they’re hopeful because some judges in other circuits have stated they interpret same-sex marriage bans as constitutional.

Carl Tobias is a professor of constitutional law at the University of Richmond and has been closely following same-sex marriage cases around the country. He says he doesn’t think the state has any new arguments to make.

“So I think it’s very much a long shot in terms of what is being argued in the stay. And I don’t think it reflects the reality on the ground from what we know right now.”

Christopher Ruff married his husband in California years ago and applied for an Alaska marriage license this morning. He says the governor’s appeal reflects badly on the state.

“It’s a little embarrassing on the state to have them codify discrimination in law and try and hold it. And I’m embarrassed with Parnell right now still continuing to say they want to hold it after the courts have said straight out they are degrading and discriminating. I forget the exact words but they were pretty harsh.”

Ruff says they applied for a license immediately because they are afraid the state will take away their rights again.

Judge Timothy Burgess will rule on the state’s request. If the stay is denied then licenses could be issued on Thursday.

Categories: Alaska News

Bureau of Vital Statistics Prepares New Marriage License Documents

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-10-13 17:47

With same-sex couples applying for marriage licenses across the state, the office that processes those documents made sure new applications were ready to go Monday morning.

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Categories: Alaska News

Report Details Rural Health Care Challenges

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-10-13 17:46

A new report details the challenges involved in providing health care to rural communities in Alaska.

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The study concludes there is a lack of professional expertise in the state’s smaller communities.

The report – called “Alaska’s Community Capacity Review: A Statewide Public Health System Assessment” – also notes that an aging health care workforce is a challenge as well.

State health promotion manager Jayne Andreen, who worked on the report, says there’s a need for mentors to counter an aging workforce.

The report says northern and southwest regions of the state are most lacking in health care providers.

The report was released October 1st. It is based on a performance review of the public health system earlier this year.

Categories: Alaska News

Groups Push To Mobilize Alaska Native Voters

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-10-13 17:45

Over the last few months, the non-partisan ‘Get Out the Native Vote’ has made a big push to mobilize native voters across the Alaska. Roughly one in five potential voters in the state is Alaska Native. A number of native organizations have signed on to help with the movement.

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Categories: Alaska News

Protesters Block Access To BC Mine As It Nears Completion

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-10-13 17:44

A nearly-completed British Columbia mine in the Stikine River watershed is expected to begin full production at the end of this month. Meanwhile, protesters blocking access to the controversial Red Chris mine may be forced out Tuesday.

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Imperial Metals owns the Mount Polley Mine in eastern British Columbia, where an August tailings dam break spilled an estimated 2 billion gallons of silty water into the Fraser River watershed.

Now, Imperial’s Red Chris Mine, near the Southeast Alaska border, is raising concerns with groups on both sides of the border.

The Klabona Keepers, a group of Tahltan First Nation members living near that mine, are blockading its access road.

Red Chris’ owners were recently granted a temporary injunction against the blockade.

But Klabona Keepers spokesperson Rhoda Quock said that order is still a victory.

“For one, the companies usually walk into the courtroom, they get their court injunction, and they get their enforcement order. What they didn’t count on is that we had people in Vancouver to go into the courtroom and challenge it. And they didn’t get their enforcement order that day,” Quock said.

The Red Chris copper and gold mine is in the Stikine River watershed, upriver from Wrangell and Petersburg. Groups on both sides of the border are worried its tailings dam might be too similar to the one that spilled contaminated water and sediment into the Fraser River system.

For now, Klabona Keepers protesters continue blockading at the mine. When the enforcement order goes into effect, the police can act on the injunction and force them to leave.

An earlier blockade of the mine ended with an agreement between the Klabona Keepers, Imperial Metals and the Tahltan Central Council.

Protesters left the mine in August when Imperial Metals agreed to pay for an independent review of the Red Chris tailings dam. The Tahltan Central Council chose the reviewer. British Columbia will not issue final permits for the tailings dam until the review is complete.

The review is still pending, but protesters returned two weeks ago.

Quock said the blockade went back up after the group learned more about the impact of the Mount Polley dam breach.

“Red Chris is only 18 kilometers from our community. And not only that, once the dam breaks, it’s going to go into [the] Klappan. [The] Klappan goes into [the] Stikine. And that will affect our salmon,” Quock said. “It will also affect everyone downstream; it will affect their salmon.”

Vancouver-based Imperial Metals did not respond to requests for an interview.

In its injunction application, the company stated, “Red Chris has been forced to severely limit its construction activities at the project site, and if the blockade continues, will be forced to halt them altogether.”

Categories: Alaska News

Gubernatorial Candidates Square Off Over Medicaid Expansion

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-10-13 17:43

When Alaskans vote for governor on Nov. 4, they’ll also be deciding the fate of Medicaid expansion in the state. Incumbent Governor Sean Parnell has said he won’t expand the federal health insurance program under the Affordable Care Act. But his opponent, Independent candidate Bill Walker says if elected, he will immediately accept the federal money.

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Categories: Alaska News

Sen. Murkowski, Julie Fate Sullivan Bring Senate Campaign To Bethel

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-10-13 17:42

Just weeks before the November election, the Sullivan campaign has come to Bethel.

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As former Attorney General and Natural Resources Commissoiner Dan Sullivan works to unseat incumbent Senator Mark Begich, he’s yet to visit the Y-K Delta, in his year-long campaign, but plans to soon. In the meantime, his wife, Julie Fate Sullivan, was here on his behalf last week to introduce her husband to Southwest Alaskan voters. Despite a career spent in urban Alaska and Washington D.C., Fate Sullivan says her husband first connected with the state at her family’s Yukon fish camp.

“24 years ago, that’s the first place I ever brought him. To get up there and work with all of us, that’s the first part of Alaska Dan came to know and love, long before Anchorage or Fairbanks…we’d go into Fairbanks to pick up supplies. So he’s got a deep respect and understanding of rural Alaska, more than most people know,” said Fate Sullivan.

Fate Sullivan is Koyukon Athabascan, and has deep connections in the state. She’s worked as a journalist and as a staffer for the late Senator Ted Stevens. Her mother was the first female co-chair of the Alaska Federation of Natives. And Sullivan also had the support of a powerful surrogate in Bethel: Senator Lisa Murkowski, who’s filmed one commercial for him.

“I need a partner who will work to advance Alaska’s interests, not the Obama agenda,” said Murkowksi in the campaign ad.

Fate Sullivan accompanied Murkowski to the Association of Village Council President’s Convention in Bethel Tuesday. Murkowki addressed the Convention during her visit but also fit in some campaigning for Sullivan. Senator Begich also addressed the AVCP convention and campaigned in Bethel last week.

The national implications of the race are not lost on the outside donors pouring millions into the race. If Republicans take six seats from Democrats in November, they will control the senate. Murkowski, as the ranking member of the Senate’s Energy and Interior Appropriations committee, would become Chair, and that becomes part of her campaign pitch.

“We stand to gain a great deal from the seniority position and chairmanship position that I would hold. That’ something that Alaskans should consider when they look at this race,” said Murkowski.

The rural vote was essential to Murkowski’s successful 2010 write-in campaign. But to connect with rural voters, Murkowski says, candidates have to be here in person.

“There’s no substitute for being on the ground, with the people, and being part of the people,” said Murkowski.

Although Sullivan was not part of the people at the region’s largest gathering of tribal leaders last week, sending his wife as his proxy, was a first step.

“It’s a better understanding of who he is. We’re a family obviously. When people realize that not only am I born and raised in Alaska, but I’m Alaska Native, there’s a better understanding. Like I said, there’s a lot of misinformation out there,” said Fate Sullivan.

Dan Sullivan is set to be on the ground in Bethel on Friday, October 17th where he’s scheduled to speak at the Chamber of Commerce luncheon, among other campaign activities.

Categories: Alaska News

Judge Sides With Anchorage In Ride-Sharing Lawsuit

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-10-13 17:41

A state court judge says ride-sharing company Uber cannot offer transportation for hire in Alaska’s largest city unless it complies with a local ordinance.

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Superior Court Judge Michael Corey issued an order Monday barring the company from charging people for rides in Anchorage unless it uses regulated vehicles and otherwise complies with municipal law regarding for-hire vehicles.

Corey ruled in a case brought by the municipality of Anchorage.

Uber provides a smartphone app that allows people to order rides in privately driven cars instead of taxis.

Corey, in his order, said Uber had not been charging riders for transportation it arranged but had the capability to charge at any time before his ruling.

A phone listing for an Uber attorney rang unanswered Monday afternoon.

Categories: Alaska News

Leaders Gather In Bethel To Discuss Rural, State, Federal Issues

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-10-13 17:40

Leaders from around the state gathered in Bethel last week for the 50th Annual Association of Village Council Presidents Convention.

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Categories: Alaska News
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