A Lower 48 environmental group is trying to force the Environmental Protection Agency to clamp down on fine particulate pollution in nine states, including Alaska. The Center for Biological Diversity has filed formal notice of intent to sue the E.P.A. for failing to enforce the Clean Air Act.
Group toxics and endangered species campaign director Jonathan Evans said the E.P.A. has failed to press states to develop implementation plans for reducing smoke emissions.
In Alaska, the state Department of Environmental Conservation missed a December 2012 deadline for submission of a plan to reduce smoke from wood and coal burning in the Fairbanks North Pole area.
The D.E.C. is working with the E.P.A. and Fairbanks North Star Borough to develop control measures, now scheduled to go out for public review this fall. Evans said his group welcomes that.
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The University of Alaska Fairbanks wants to develop a mobile app around energy efficiency research at its Sustainable Village student housing project. The university will use a $40,000 donation from Verizon to run a contest for ideas and develop the app.
Sailing is thriving in the capital city through a club called Southeast Alaska Sailing, also known as SEAS. The mission of the group is to promote an appreciation of sailing. That’s done through organized races in the spring and summer as well as a weekly event called Get Out The Boat. KTOO’s Lisa Phu was on board the sailboat Surprise for the three-day Labor Day Regatta to Taku Harbor.
The Alaska Supreme Court is scheduled to hear an appeal of a Healy area natural gas license. The high court will consider the appeal filed by the Denali Citizens Council Wednesday September 18th.
It’s the latest volley in a long running dispute between the local group and the state Department of Natural Resources over licensing Usibelli Coal to look for and potentially develop gas in the area around Denali National Park. A license was first applied for in 2003.
A state best interest finding in favor of the license was issued in 2010. D.C.C. Board member Nancy Bale has been involved in the public comment process for. The final best interest finding granted Usibelli the right to explore for shallow gas on over 208 thousand acres on both sides of the Parks Highway and Nenana River.
The Denali Citizen Council’s appeal claims the state defined area improperly includes sensitive residential and wildlife areas and does not provide adequate mitigation measures. Bale said the appeal is not aimed at stopping gas development, which is seen as a cleaner burning energy alternative.
The court is not expected to issue a ruling until next year. A similar challenge to a state gas license for the Holitna area, heard last spring, has yet to be ruled on.
Another company out of Washington just won permission to study the potential development of a new hydro-electric plant at a mountaintop lake within the Petersburg Borough. The federal government has awarded a preliminary permit for the Cascade Creek Project to Hydro Development LLC. The company’s plan is almost exactly the same as that of a previous permit holder which had earlier lost its bid to continue working on the controversial project.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued the permit to Hydro Development LLC on August 29th. It allows the company three years to study the potential for a power plant at Swan Lake and Cascade Creek at Thomas Bay on the mainland, about 15 miles northeast of downtown Petersburg. It also puts the company first in line to submit a license application to build the project.
“We’re just getting started on putting it together so this will give us the opportunity to go to it,” said Hydro Development Chief Executive Corky Smith, who owns the Olivine Corporation in Bellingham.
According to Smith, Olivine mines the mineral of the same name and uses it in the manufacture of high-temperature burners that can convert wood waste to energy. He says that work prompted his interest in Hydro power.
“We’re in the waste-to-energy business and power generation and I’ve been wanting to work on these hydro projects for a while and this one looks like a great opportunity to do something,” he said. “So, I am happy to be able to get that permit and we can get started on it.”
Smith has not yet lined-up funding for the project but says he can move ahead on that work now that he has the permit. He organized Hydro Development as a Limited Liability Corporation in Alaska in February 2012, a day before submitting the federal permit application. That was just a couple days after another Bellingham applicant, Cascade Creek LLC, had been denied a third preliminary permit for the same project.
FERC filings are publicly available and Smith’s application language and documentation is nearly identical to Cascade Creek’s with one significant difference. Hydro Development wants to draw down Swan Lake as much as 40-feet to produce electricity. Cascade had proposed to stay within a six-foot seasonal fluctuation of the lake.
Swan Lake is a popular hunting, fishing, and tourism destination on the Tongass National Forest within the Petersburg Borough. The original proposal from Cascade Creek prompted extensive objections from many residents and local government as well as state and federal resource Managers who raised procedural, technical and environmental concerns. Barbara Stanley is the Forest Service’s Regional Energy Coordinator.
“A lot of our concerns about the previous project were due to lack of communication between the applicant and the agencies, a rather poor job of analyzing the environmental effects of the project to the point where it was almost impossible for the agencies to determine what the overall project effects might be,” she said. ”So, since we’re still very early in the process with the new company, it’s really too soon to tell how it’s going to unfold.”
For its part, FERC cited a lack of progress as well as concerns voiced by the resource agencies and local residents in denying Cascade Creek a third permit. Officials with Hydro Development and Cascade Creek have said their companies are not working together. In a letter last fall, Hydro Development’s Corky Smith told FERC that he had no business affiliations with Cascade Creek.
Some in Petersburg are not convinced. In written comments to FERC, the Petersburg Borough asked the agency to monitor Hydro Development LLC to, “ensure that it is not a sham filing associated with any entities of Cascade Creek.”
“I think Petersburg’s main concern was holding on to a site without actually moving forward on the development,” said Borough Manager Steve Giesbrecht.
“I think we really want to see more hydro development in Southeast. That’s a prime location and we really want somebody involved in the project, whether its SEAPA,whether its one of the communities or anybody else to actually be moving forward and working forward on developing something not just holding on to it for some future date or opportunity.”
SEAPA, the Southeast Alaska Power Agency, provides some of the lowest cost hydro-electricity in the state to its public member utilities in Petersburg, Wrangell and Ketchikan. The quasi-governmental agency is overseen by a public board of representatives from those municipalities. SEAPA is currently looking for new sources of electricity in the region.
Hydro Development LLC’s Corky Smith said he hasn’t contacted SEAPA about his project. He said he hopes to move ahead on Cascade Creek but added that time will tell. Smith said he plans to hold public meetings to talk about it in Petersburg sometime in the next year.
The FERC permit requires a progress report every six months.
Financially troubled Fairbanks Community Behavioral Health Center will close Monday and Tuesday and reopen Wednesday under a new name and operator. Anchorage Community Mental Health has assumed a state grant for the Fairbanks facility and is taking over its management. Fairbanks center interim executive director Jake Poole said staffing is the focus of next week’s two-day closure.
Poole stressed that qualified Fairbanks center employees have first priority for the jobs.
The Fairbanks non-profit mental health provider is $1.2. million in debt, and plans to pursue reorganization under Chapter 11 bankruptcy. It could resume independent operation next year when the state requests proposals for a new mental health provider grant.
The new plan to recover the sunken fishing tender Lone Star has been approved by the U.S. Coast Guard. The vessel has been sitting in the middle of one of the major sockeye salmon producing rivers in Bristol Bay since late June.
Thus far, All of the efforts to remove the 78-foot Lone Start from the middle of the Igushik River have been unsuccessful. Despite several attempts the vessel has remained stuck in the mud. That resulted in the responders deciding to stand down in mid-August and work up a new plan.
The plan was submitted to the U.S. Coast Guard for approval last week and Petty Officer Shawn Eggert with Coast Guard Sector Anchorage confirms it has now been approved. He said the salvage company Resolve-Magone Marine Services is just waiting on a break in the weather to start mobilizing the necessary assets to the site of the Lone Star. Eggert said one of the new tools used in the upcoming salvage effort is foam that will be pumped into the aft section of the vessel to create some more buoyancy.
“They are also bringing in a barge to try a new lifting method, which will involve lifting one side of the Lone Star with chain pullers on a wench while lifting the other side with the crane.”
If the Lone Star can be made seaworthy the plan is to then tow the vessel to Unalaska. Eggert said, weather permitting, the plan is to begin the new recovery effort on September 20th.
“The whole operation will take approximately 8 days barring delays.”
At the time of the sinking of the Lone Star the crew reported that it was carrying over 13,700 gallons of diesel fuel and several hundred gallons of other petroleum products. 7,200 gallons of fuel oil and over 3,700 gallons of oily water were removed from the fuel tanks on board the Lone Star but it’s believed there is still fuel or other petroleum products onboard that couldn’t be recovered. Petty Officer Eggert said assets will be on scene to deal with a release of fuel during the recovery effort.
At the time of the sinking on June 30th the Lone Star was anchored near the mouth of the Igushik River buying sockeye from local fishermen in the Igushik Section of the Nushagak Commercial Fishing District. During a change in the tide the anchor chain apparently struck the vessel’s transducer resulting in a hull breach. It eventually capsized in about 18-feet of water. Fuel leaking from the vessel eventually resulted in a closure of the local commercial fishery in the area.
There are plenty of fans for crime shows, so maybe it’s no surprise that there’s a book that frames the trial of Jesus in terms of the modern justice system. But maybe its more surprising how little has changed in more than 2,000 years. The author of the fascinating book “Jesus on Death Row” will be taking your calls on the next Talk of Alaska.
HOST: Steve Heimel, APRN
- Mark Osler, Professor of Law, University of St. Thomas, author of “Jesus on Death Row”
- Post your comment before, during or after the live broadcast (comments may be read on air).
- Send e-mail to talk [at] alaskapublic [dot] org (comments may be read on air)
- Call 550-8422 in Anchorage or 1-800-478-8255 if you’re outside Anchorage during the live broadcast
LIVE Broadcast: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. on APRN stations statewide.
It’s football season in Alaska.
The sport continues to gain popularity in the 49th state, where the first official high school football championship game was played less than 25 years ago.
But in Alaska and nationally concerns over football’s safety have grown, and more and more parents are refusing to let their children play youth football because of the risk of injury. Football officials at all levels have responded by trying to make the game safer.
KTOO’s Casey Kelly recently talked to coaches and players with the Juneau Youth Football League to find out how they are approaching the problem.
Juneau’s Dimond Park Field House is swarming with nearly 150 six- to 14-year-old football players wearing their brightly colored team jerseys. They run around on the turf, tossing footballs, and, of course, trying to tackle each other. That is, until a coach summons them to the middle of the field, where he introduces former NFL Quarterback Jake “The Snake” Plummer.
Plummer: “You guys like to play football, right?”
Plummer: “You want to play for a long time?”
Plummer: “All right, then the key tonight is to listen up and to pay attention when your coaches go through these drills.”
At 6’2” and 215 pounds, Plummer still looks fit enough to play, even though he took his last snap for the Denver Broncos in 2006. After he became a coach, he says he realized young players today are not being taught proper techniques. Specifically, too many players are learning the wrong way to tackle.
“Don’t use that helmet as a weapon; that thing is there to protect you,” Plummer said. “That’s like a shield, that’s not your sword.”
“That’s a shield that will protect your head from getting injured.”
Plummer is now an ambassador for USA Football, the official youth development organization of the NFL and its players association. Juneau Youth Football League Director of Coaching Brandon Mahle says JYFL became a full-fledged member of USA Football this year to take advantage of its certified training programs.
“You get online, usafootball.com, and they have certifications from tackling to flag football,” Mahle said. “They complete their certifications, give them to me, and then they’re eligible to coach for the season.”
During his visit to Juneau, Plummer led a clinic on Heads Up tackling, which teaches players to keep the crown of the helmet up and their eyes on the player they’re trying to take down. The idea is to limit injuries, like concussions or stingers, which is basically a pinched nerve in the neck.
Mahle says JYFL coaches have also gone to a limited tackling policy in practices. He says many NFL and college teams have similar policies.
“They [NFL and college coaches] have found that you can go what’s called ‘thud level,’ which is hit to contact without taking kids to the ground, that you can achieve the same level at practice as you could hitting to take kids to the ground,” Mahle said. “And you have much less injuries in the process.”
Juneau youth football coach Krag Campbell says some parents are skeptical of limited or Heads Up tackling practices. But overall he thinks it’s a positive step.
“You see some people going against it, because they were always taught hit low, hit low, this diving tackle,” Campbell said. “So, it’s trying to change that perception – and it just takes time.”
“And I really see the biggest benefit we’re going to see is the younger kids growing up.”
Mike Carriker’s son Noah plays for the Seahawks of the Cubs Division. As a parent, he applauds the new emphasis on safety.
“I was really hesitant – didn’t want him involved, worried about injuries, but he was persistent; and that last month it was every day: ‘Daddy can I play? Daddy can I play?,’ so we gave in,” Carriker said. “But knowing that they were doing a lot to prepare kids and have them do things right to try and prevent injury was kind of one of the things that helped us make a decision.”
Heads Up tackling is on full display at a recent game between the Senior Division Hawkeyes and Red Raiders. Hawkeyes quarterback/running back Liam Van Sickle says he’s never had a concussion, and he hopes Heads Up tackling means he never will.
“I think it’s just as effective and it’s a lot safer,” Van Sickle said. “I’ve had people on my team get like stingers and stuff.”
“I think this is a good way to help prevent that.”
Most importantly, Van Sickle says the new focus on safety won’t change the way he plays – aggressively.
This week, we’re heading to Nelchina, a small and spread out community on the Glenn Highway. Roxanne Farmer is a life-long resident of Nelchina.
“My name is Roxanne Farmer. I live at Nelchina, Alaska.
Nelchina is a place on the Glenn Highway; it’s a town site from Eureka to, maybe, mile 150 on the Glenn Highway.
People came in and did some gold mining in the 1900s.
Different people do some mining back in behind Eureka and people do some recreational mining along the streams and creeks.
I think that miners used to do real well in the 70s and 80s, but I think now it’s more recreational.
We have a local church; we have a couple lodges on the highway – Eureka Lodge being one, Mendeltna Lodge being at the other end. Slide Mountain cabins is in between there.
We have one little, small grocery store on the Glenn Highway.
And the 70s, is a lot like what it is now. We had kind of like a boom in the 80s and 90s; we had more people more people in this area; we had a lot more families; we ended up putting in a little school here and just over the last 10 years that our community dwindled back down again to where we just have a lot of people that have recreational homes in the area.
There’s not a lot of people that stay here all winter long.
So, the school has been closed down.
So, many people do a lot of dip netting and get fish from the fish wheels there in Copper Center and a lot of people go down and do silver fishing down in Valdez in the summertime. And we definitely harvest our caribou and moose in the area.
We have the Chugach Mountain Range that’s on the south side of the highway. From one point you can see all four mountain ranges: Chugach, Talkeetna, the Wrangells and the Alaska Range.”
Two Mat-Su Valley men were rescued by Alaska State Troopers yesterday after their boat capsized during a hunting trip.
Robert Miller, of Palmer, and Willy Rumbo, of Wasilla, were returning from the trip when their boat struck a log and capsized, according to Troopers.
State Trooper spokeswoman Megan Peters says that Troopers received calls from the wife of one of the hunters, and then from the hunters, themselves. Both calls came in shortly after noon Wednesday. State Troopers contacted Mahay’s Jet Boat Adventures and asked them to assist with the search and rescue.
Steve Mahay, a local river expert and rescue volunteer, says that he and a Trooper located the two men well upriver of Talkeetna. He says that the hunters had been in a welded aluminum boat. Troopers say that one of the two men had minor injuries, and Mahay confirmed that one of the men had lacerations and “a bump on the head,” but that both men were alert and responsive.
He believes the boat might be recoverable, but that the gear that was inside is probably lost forever. It is unknown if the hunters had any game on board.
Trooper spokeswoman Peters says that while it’s unfortunate that the hunters lost their property, making sure they got home safely is the most important thing.
She says, “Gear is replaceable. They aren’t.”
Both men were treated at the Talkeetna boat launch by EMS and released.
The captain’s sure hand is on the controls..
“Obviously we’ve rigged up this exercise to show you our ice capability, because you might get nautious. The building is not moving, you can probably feel it…”
We are standing on the bridge of a vessel close behind an ice breaking ship ploughing through oil rigs locked into a frozen landscape. We can feel the rolling of the deck, see the golfball size snowflakes pounding on the fo’casle windows –
” I’m going to put the rudder hard over right now, we are picking up speed, we are doing about 8 knots”.. I’m gonna slam the rudder hard left’..” Yeah, because you are going to hit that oil rig in a minute now!’. ” So, as we pick up speed here, come up to 9, see the rudder is actually turning, that’s the rudder angle right there, that clicking you hear is the auto pilot gyro.”
But Wait! It’s all virtual, and it’s all part of a new course that AVTEC is planning to offer come next spring. Scott Hamilton heads AVTEC’s maritime department. He says the course uses ice navigation simulators to replicate the actual experience of operating a ship in Arctic conditions.
”Our theme around here at AVTEC is that the training we like to do is company, area and vessel specific training. You can read the text book, but the real reality is your ability to come in and conduct a vessel, many different types of ships, many different types of cargos. It’s best done safely in a ship’s simulator.”
Hamilton is a former Alaska Marine Highway captain, and he knows what it takes to get mariner’s certifications. He says competition from foreign shipping, especially tourism – related, is skyrocketing in the Arctic
” And we’re not ready. And the Coast Guard understands that, but it is a huge challenge. Most of the traffic that’s operating up there right now is foreign flagged vessels, foreign flagged crews. “
In 2016, new International Marine Organization [IMO] certification standards will kick in for Arctic ship operators. Mike Terminel, is president of AVTEC’s maritime board and a working ship’s captain and ice navigator. He’s got 30 trips to Antarctica under his belt. And he says ice navigation is something that has to be experienced to be learned
”An ice navigator is an individual that has been specially trained to operate in the ice. You can be a captain on a container ship for 25 years and never go into t ice once. That is something the IMO and the US Coast Guard has looked at very carefully these last couple of years and they are going to be implementing rules and endorsements that will be coming out here shortly to make sure that mariners are properly trained when they are in Arctic waters “
Anything north of latitude 60 is considered the Arctic. That means most of Alaska, and the training can be used in all areas – for Cook Inlet oil rigs and Valdez Arm tanker traffic for example. But the far North is a different story. North of the Arctic Circle there are few aids to navigation. Floating and coastal aids are seasonal, charts are not the most accurate and the only real time weather info comes from weather stations at Nome or Red Dog Mine. Navigators there need a specialized background.
Mike Angove, is the simulator engineer at AVTEC. He says the simulators are Norwegian built, at a cost of 2. 5 million dollars.
”They are the top of the line, they are the best in the world, because they got the mathematics correct. It’s what makes our simulators special when compared with other simulators.”
The school has put one million dollars into them since acquiring the simulators, and is looking for further support from the industry. They can be used by individuals, but they can handle groups of 18 at a time for interactive sessions
”We have three full mission bridges that can work interactively in the same exercise. Meaning that, for example, one can be the ship, say an oil tanker and the two others can be tug boats, and we can put hausers or lines between the tug boats and the ship and have an interactive exercise of tug escorg maneuvers and certain maneuvers that are difficult, dangerous and expensive to perform in real life. “
Inside the simulators it’s like a real experience at the helm. Computer programs change the view outside from day to night, or from calm to choppy seas and an operator has to meet maneuvering challenges to avoid obstacles of all kinds. The simulators can mimic conditions at all of the state’s largest ports. Inside, Hamilton brings the simulated ship to the Valdez oil terminal
Hamilton says safety is the main focus of the training. The earliest round of classes will be attended by industry professionals, to offer insights into the course, but after that, AVTEC expects to be able to train about 60 pilots and captains a year. I’m Ellen Lockyer
Step into a remote fish camp. Listen to a Dena’ina love song composed in 1915. Those are couple of the experiences Anchorage Museum visitors can expect when they tour the first comprehensive exhibit bringing together the language, history and artifacts of the original inhabitants of Southcentral Alaska – the Dena’ina Athabascans. It opens Sunday at the Anchorage Museum.
One important theme of the exhibit is, ‘We’re still here.’
“Most people who live in Anchorage have no idea that there is an indigenous population that has been here and continues to be here,” Aaron Leggett, one of the co-curators for the exhibit, said.
That’s a perception that he wants to change.
“My grandmother was a full-blooded Dena’ina Athabascan from the Native village of Eklutna,” Leggett said. “Eklutna is the only federally recognized tribe within the Municipality of Anchorage.”
“So really, for my people, our traditional homeland is the Anchorage area.”
Leggett has spent more than a half dozen years searching out the objects that appear in the exhibit, traveling mostly to museums across Europe.
Most of the objects on display were collected in the 17 and 1800′s by explorers and museum collectors. Objects like an eight-foot long Beluga harpoon was borrowed from Germany for the exhibit and a bowl made of Dall sheep horn collected during the third voyage of Captain Cook in 1778 is on loan from the British Museum.
Jim Fall is a cultural anthropologist who now manages subsistence programs for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. He’s also a co-curator for the exhibit.
“The name of the exhibition is, ‘Dena’inaq’ Huch’ulyeshi, The Dena’ina Way of Living,’” Fall said.
Fall says pieces of Dena’ina history can be found right in the city.
Point Woronzof was a major fish camp in the early 20th century. Chester Creek, was also an important fishing area. And there were several seasonal camps right in downtown Anchorage up until the 1930s.
The Dena’ina were displaced leading up to World War II to make way for the growing city and military presence.
The exhibit brings them back to life. It contains many interactive features – maps on iPads that allow visitors explore traditional Dena’ina places around the city with their Native names. A life-sized recreation of a fish camp transports visitors to the southwestern frontier of Dena’ina territory near Nondalton.
In the process of pulling the exhibit together, Fall has seen a lot of artifacts, but thinks the most interesting ones in the exhibit are the quivers, which held hunters’ arrows.
“And these quivers, they’re very beautiful objects, but they’re also decorated with the images of various game animals that people hunted as a well as the hunters themselves,” Fall said. “So their fun to look at; they’re beautiful, and they also tell us something, I think, about the respect that the hunters expressed to the animals that they depended on and hunted.”
Hunters traveled across a vast, rich territory, ranging from Seldovia in the south to Talkeetna in the north.
Suzi Jones is the Deputy Director of the Museum and a co-curator for the exhibit. She says Dena’ina people are unique among Athabascans because they live both inland and along the salt water, and the exhibit demonstrates that.
“One of the recreated settings in the exhibit is of a Dena’ina man hunting from a beluga spearing platform,” Jones said. “They upended a spruce tree, anchored it into the mud flat and made a platform out of it with the root mass of the tree; and the hunters stood or sat there as the belugas followed the salmon into the river mouths.”
Today, Cook Inlet Beluga Whales are on the Endangered Species List and Alaska Natives have voluntarily stopped hunting them because of declining numbers. In addition to artifacts and diorama’s recreating traditional practices, the exhibit contains stories and songs.
This song, composed by Dena’ina, Shem Pete, was recorded in 1915.
It’s a lament to a lost love – a young man leaves his girlfriend, and wonders if she’s thinking about him as he walks the trail between Tyonek and Susitna Station.
The song became well known to Dena’ina singers throughout the 20th century. The exhibit, for Leggett, is his own love song to his people.
“My hope is that when they grow up they can have something to turn to be proud of their heritage because when I was a kid we didn’t really have a lot to point to that was definitively Dena’ina,” Leggett said.
Leggett says the years of work he put the exhibit are dedicated his ancestors, and to the next generation of Dena’ina.
He helped edit a book to go along with the exhibit, which is the most comprehensive ever produced on the Dena’ina.
The exhibit opens with a free celebration from 1-3 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 15 and runs through Jan. 12.
When Filipinos hear “Alaska,” often the first two things that come to mind are milk and basketball.
That’s according to the Philippines’ recently appointed honorary consul to Alaska, Jenny Gomez Strickler.
It turns out, the Philippines-based Alaska Milk Corporation sells milk in the country and sponsors the Alaska Aces — not Anchorage’s minor league hockey team, but a professional basketball team in the Philippines. Neither the milk nor the basketball team have a meaningful connection to the 49th state.
That means if Alaska wants to make inroads in trade with the Philippines, the state has a lot of work to do. In 2012, less than 1 percent of Alaska’s exports ended up in the Philippines, according to census data.
But Strickler says connections are being forged that could help build a market for Alaska seafood, and even liquefied natural gas.
The Juneau resident and retired Alaska Department of Commerce and Economic Development worker spoke to the Juneau World Affairs Council on Wednesday. In her new honorary role for the government of the Philippines, she’s part bureaucrat, and part international trade facilitator.
She’s trying to make the case that “Alaska” should mean “seafood” in the Philippines.
“The Philippines is a fish-eating country,” she said. “Yet its fish is imported from other countries. And its imported salmon is farmed salmon.”
Strickler, Juneau Rep. Cathy Munoz and the governor’s office are trying to put together a seafood festival in Manila next year to show the country what Alaska has to offer.
Strickler shared an anecdote about a missed connection that networking at the festival might fix. A former Juneau resident brought some Alaska seafood to Manila for his friends to try. One of samplers happened to be a hotel owner.
“The business owner enjoyed it so much, he said, ‘If I get this from you, can you guarantee me X amount throughout the year, or a portion of the year?’ He looked him straight in the eye and said, ‘I can’t, cause I’m not a fisherman.’”
She said they’re working on a pitch to get support from the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute.
Strickler also said she was on a recent conference call between Philippines Ambassador Jose Cuisia Jr. and state officials. The ambassador said he’s putting together a team to visit Alaska and investigate opportunities to import liquefied natural gas.
Finally, Strickler said Aklan State University in the Philippines is interested in sending instructors to the University of Alaska Southeast through an exchange program. They want to learn about saltwater fisheries.
Strickler said she expects that arrangement to come together after the Juneau Assembly adopts a sister city proclamation linking Juneau and Kalibo, the capital city of the Philippine province Aklan.
A Juneau Assembly committee backed the proclamation on Monday.
Jenny Gomez Strickler’s talk with the Juneau World Affairs Council is tentatively scheduled to air on 360 North on October 11th.
The Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly will consider a resolution Thursday that could prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from retroactively revoking permits within the Borough.
Sponsors are responding to the EPA’s decision this spring to revoke a permit for a controversial coal mining project in West Virginia.
In 2007, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers granted a permit to Arch Coal, Incorporated for a West Virginia mountaintop coal mining project.
The company used dynamite to blow the top off a mountain to reveal a coal seam below.
In 2011, the Environmental Protection Agency cited concerns over water quality and revoked the permit. Arch Coal challenged the revocation in district court and won, but that decision was overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington DC last April.
Assemblyman Karl Kassel says he doesn’t want to see similar action taken in the Fairbanks North Star Borough.
“We decided it was appropriate to make an official comment because of the strength of the mining industry in Alaska and all the exploration that they are doing,” Kassel said. ”This is something that could potentially come into play in the future for us and we felt we should take a proactive approach to make sure it doesn’t happen here to the best of our ability.”
Kassel and Presiding Officer Diane Hutchison are sponsoring a resolution that asks the State congressional delegation and President Barack Obama not to allow the EPA to retroactively revoke development permits.
“Once the EPA makes a decision I think they should be obligated to stick with the decision that they make,” Kassel said. ”And not retroactively go back and revoke a permit.”
“That’s really the topic here.”
The resolution does not address the technical aspects of mining projects.
Kassel says he doesn’t have any reason to believe the EPA plans to revoke current permits for local mining and development projects.
He says he hasn’t yet contacted members of the congressional delegation about the resolution.
A collection of photographs by turn of century Denali explorer Belmore Brown is on display in Fairbanks.
The exhibit at the Fairbanks Community Museum was put together by longtime Talkeetna climbing guide Brian Okonek, whose describes Brown as a multi talented pioneer.
“He was quite a character, kind of a renaissance man; he was an artist, a very, very good landscape painter; he was a naturalist; and he’s also an explorer and climber and attempted to climb Denali three times,” Okonek said.
Brown’s endeavors to the mountain included a trip to disprove Frederick Cook’s 1906 first summit claim.
Brown’s 1912 expedition got within 300 feet of the top of Denali, a year before a team lead by Hudson Stuck logged the historic first summit.
Okonek says he’s long been fascinated by the early climbs and secured grants to travel to New Hampshire in 2012, to view Belmore Brown’s archives at Dartmouth College.
“It’s pretty exciting to walk into the library and have these shelves full of these boxes out of Belmore Brown’s collection and just start going through them, it was like a treasure chest full of negatives, and prints, and then be able to read through his journals,” Okonek said.
Okonek says the vast majority of Brown’s photos have not been published and he was able to scan about 250 to bring back to Alaska.
A selection of the pictures has toured the state, including this month’s exhibit in Fairbanks.
Okonek says researching pioneer Denali expeditions has given him great respect for the early climbers.
“They were very, very trail-hardened; they put up with some incredible, incredible discomfort,” Okonek said. “Whether it was the bugs, and the rain, and the bogs, and the brush of getting there and when Belmore Brown did it in 1912, their expedition was seven months long from the time they left Seward until the time they finally got back to Skagway.”
Okonek is giving presentation tonight on the early Denali climbing expeditions at the Morris Thompson Center in Fairbanks at 7 p.m.
On Wednesday, Lieutenant-Governor Mead Treadwell announced that Denali is 83 feet shorter than previously believed.
That means that instead of 20,320 feet, the mountain now measures in at 20,237 feet.
It’s not in any danger of losing its place as North America’s tallest peak, but there could still be some impact from the change.
In Talkeetna, Denali is big business. Companies offer tours from the air, water and land that promise visitors a chance at seeing the mountain that dominates the skyline.
In addition, all of the climbers who attempt to summit Denali come through Talkeetna to register with the National Park Service.
Any change involving the mountain is bound to have ripples in the community.
While the change in elevation is significant, Denali Mountaineering Ranger Mark Westman says that this is not a case of the incredible shrinking mountain.
“I would stress that, at least in terms of what I’ve been hearing, people have been referring to it – saying the mountain has shrunk,” Westman said. “For people who don’t understand the whole thing, I think it’d be important to emphasize that I’m pretty sure, at least at first glance, that the mountain hasn’t actually shrunk, but that the technology just got more precise.”
Dave Johnston, a Talkeetna resident who has made a number of notable Denali climbs, beginning in 1963, says that it’s not unusual for mountains to have their elevations adjusted.
“It’s – I guess – to be expected as technology marches on; go up a little, go down a little,” Johnston said. “Maybe you could attribute it to global warming, but I don’t think so.”
Annie Duquette, who ran Denali’s base camp for a decade, jokingly says that, while the mountain is the same, maybe the smaller number will have a psychological impact. Willi Prittie, reality television and mountaineering veteran, seems to agree, but also thinks that this opens the door to other changes.
“Well, it’s just going to be so much lower and so much easier to climb, now,” Prittie said. “Yeah, I think it’s time for new elevation, new name; Get rid of this McKinley thing and go officially to Denali.”
Beyond mountaineering, which is not likely to change much as a result, there are issues of maps, documents and literal tons of memorabilia that bears the 20,320 foot elevation figure.
Lisa Roderick, current base camp manager on Denali, says that it’s possible some of today’s t-shirts, hats, and other items might be collectibles some day.
For some businesses, the link to Denali’s elevation goes well beyond merchandising. Jimmy Bush, a manager at the 20320 Alaskan Grill at McKinley Wilderness Lodge says that there are no immediate plans to change the restaurant’s name, despite the new measurements.
The 20320 Grill is not alone in maintaining the use of the accepted elevation figure. Alaskan Congressman Don Young says he doesn’t plan to change how he refers to Denali.
“This is something that it’s the government says, ‘Do you believe the government?’ I’m not sure I do, so I’m going to leave the original height there of McKinley, as it was,” Young said. “Until someone can show me any different, I’m going to say it’s the height it was, and I’m going to advertise it like that.”
Senator Lisa Murkowski takes a more diplomatic view.
“You know, I’m never quite sure how they actually arrive at their numbers, but this is their proficiency,” Murkowski said. “I was a little distressed when I saw that.”
In the end, Denali is still well ahead of Mt. Logan, the second highest summit in North America, and is not likely to lose its crown any time soon.
In the meantime, anyone who owns memorabilia with the old elevation label has a limited time to sell it as a collector’s item.
If the National Park Service’s estimates are true, Denali is growing and will hit 20,320 feet – in about 36,000 years.
Natural Resources Commissioner Dan Sullivan is stepping down from his post amid talk that he’s planning a run for U.S. Senate. Republicans see incumbent Mark Begich’s seat as one of the keys to taking control of Congress, and the race is already getting heated. APRN’s Alexandra Gutierrez reports.
Sullivan announced his resignation to Gov. Sean Parnell on Wednesday night, giving September 24 as his last day. According to Parnell’s spokesperson, the governor will name an acting commissioner at that point, while he looks for a permanent replacement.
Sullivan has been a commissioner since 2010, and before that, he was the state’s attorney general. In his resignation letter, he trumpeted his work in both positions. What Sullivan didn’t mention is what he plans to do next. Gov. Parnell didn’t get into that either, though he did give Sullivan a blessing of sorts, saying he wishes him “much success” in the future.
The expectation is that he’s going to join the ranks of Republicans looking to take on Democrat Mark Begich.
“Several candidates have already declared — Joe Miller, Mead Treadwell, Kathleen Tonn — and most people seem to believe that Commissioner Dan Sullivan is going to join the race very soon,” says Peter Goldberg, the state party chair.
Goldberg says that even though the field is getting crowded, he’s still hoping to avoid a messy primary. That seat is one of a handful that Republicans need to win, if they want a majority in the Senate. The Republican National Committee is sending a state director to set up shop this month, and its chair, Reince Priebus, plans to visit Alaska in October.
Even though Sullivan isn’t a household name, there are Republican leaders in Alaska and Washington, DC, who think he could be a viable candidate for higher office. In addition to his time in the governor’s cabinet, he also worked in the State Department during the Bush administration and he served in Afghanistan as a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Marine Corps as recently as last month. He couldn’t be reached for comment for this story, because he’s traveling back from Japan on a state trip.
Political watchers expect Sullivan to appeal to party moderates. That’s the same wing that Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell might attract. On Thursday, Treadwell opened a campaign office in Anchorage, and he warned that Republicans shouldn’t turn the primary into a “demolition derby.” In a phone call after the event, he said in-fighting would weaken the party’s chances.
“The Democrats have got to have a strategy to see us divided, to see us use up our resources before the primary,” says Treadwell. “I hope we just don’t have to destroy each other in a campaign, and I’m going to do my best to run a good clean campaign.”
Treadwell says he doesn’t view Sullivan as a threat to him.
“I don’t see any reason why he needs to run, frankly, and we’ve got a good Alaskan in the race who’s been making it pretty clear that we’re going this direction for some time. But if he does, I am prepared to my record up against his, and I believe we’ll win,” says Treadwell. “I got about a 35-year head start on him and working in Alaska issues here.”
Meanwhile, Joe Miller, a Tea Party candidate who challenged Lisa Murkowski in 2010, has marked himself as the more conservative candidate in the race. Randy DeSoto, a spokesperson for Miller, says it’s too early to say how Sullivan’s entrance might shift race dynamics.
“Well, I wouldn’t want to speculate on which candidate would benefit whether one gets in or gets out,” says DeSoto. “We feel that our message will attract those people who supported Joe in the past, and we’ll be appealing to others as well going forward.”
There will be plenty of time to compete for voters. The Republican primary will be held August 19, a full eleven months from now.
Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified Dan Sullivan as a Lieutenant Colonel in Army. He is a Marine Reservist.
The Coast Guard says they’ve completed a long-distance medevac of a freighter crewman who suffered injuries from a fall aboard the vessel.
Lieutenant JG Alaina Sagan of the Coast Guard Command Center in Juneau says that two H-60 helicopters and a C-130 aircraft participated in the day-long operation off Adak on Wednesday.
With a spare C-130 flight crew and four additional helicopter crews riding along during the trip out the Aleutian Chain, Sagan estimates that as many as 50 Coast Guardsmen were all in the air at one time.
The extra fliers were needed so that crews could swap out for rest during the long mission.
A 21-year old Italian crewman fell 75 feet from the smokestack of the freighter Cinzia d’Amato as part of an apparent suicide attempt on Tuesday. The young man reportedly suffered serious injuries, including facial lacerations, an open wrist fracture, dislocated shoulder, and possible internal injuries.
The 738-foot freighter was roughly 370 miles off Adak and on its way from Japan to San Francisco when the accident occurred. The Coast Guard had the freighter maneuver to within 140 miles of Adak so that they could send a helicopter to hoist him aboard.
Sagan says forecasted weather conditions in the area included 18-foot seas, and 40 knot winds with 50 knot gusts. In addition, the helicopters arrived on scene and performed the hoist about 9 o’clock Wednesday night, in the dark.
The crewman was in stable condition when he was later transferred to a commercial medevac flight in Adak.
The C-130 returned to Kodiak Wednesday night. The H-60′s will make their way back Thursday.
A former legislator from Nenana is being fined $18,000 for breaking state ethics rules. An investigation found that Alan Dick, a Republican who served one term in the house, had charged the state and his campaign account for the same travel expenses and that he let family members live in his legislative office.
The Legislative Ethics Committee doesn’t mince words in its decision:
“Representative Dick seemed to operate under the premise that rules and regulations regarding legislative travel did not apply to him.” They say he had a “cavalier mindset,” and that his “lack of attention to detail” was “unacceptable” for a public official.
The committee found Dick in violation of five of the eight charges brought against him, dismissing the rest for insufficient evidence. Their investigation into Dick’s activities started in December, and it involved more than a dozen interviews, examination of Dick’s campaign and legislative filings, and a review of video footage.
Dick admitted that he, his wife, and his son lived in his Fairbanks legislative office on and off last fall, at the height of campaign season. The committee’s investigation found he kept sleeping items in the office, and that staff saw him “coming and going at all times of the day and night.”
Statute prohibits public resource from being used for private benefit. The idea being that you don’t want people to treat state offices like their own hotel rooms or personal apartments to avoid paying rent, especially if there’s no legislative purpose to it.
The committee found that Dick required his legislative staff to prepare him for a Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce candidate debate while on state time.
Dick told the committee he was “confused” about whether that campaign activity could count as legislative work, which the committee scoffed at. Investigation interviews determined that his staff “constantly reminded” him that doing campaign work on government time was inappropriate.
The committee also found that Dick frequently charged the state and his own campaign fund for many of the same activities. The double-charges were as small as $17 for a meal in McGrath and as high as $700 to cover the aviation mileage on his private plane.
His trip to the Alaska Federation of Natives convention last year was one of the most egregious cases: the legislature and his campaign received identical reimbursement requests for his travel and lodging costs, and he also charged the legislature for a rental car upgrade on the trip. Dick admitted to the committee that he was “remiss” and “negligent” when submitting these claims.
As punishment, Dick is being ordered to repay the state $3,500 for the inappropriate charges he submitted. The committee is also hitting him with the cost of the investigation, which came close to $15,000.
Dick has one year to pay up, or he can request a hearing before the ethics committee. If he doesn’t comply with the order, he could face civil charges or be brought before the state House of Representatives.
Dick did not return a request for comment to explain his course of action.
Dick represented a wide swath of the Interior that stretched from Fort Yukon to Marshall. He was elected in 2010, and was in office for just two years, after redistricting put his residence in the same area as Democratic incumbent David Guttenberg and he lost by 300 votes.
Under the new redistricting maps being considered, his home is back in an empty district that resembles the area he represented.