Monthly Archives: February 2015

Alaska News Roundup for Feb. 27

  • Wired contemplates realizing a different type of Alaska pipeline to help California.
  • A House subcommittee could quite possibly be putting lives at risk when they declined $2.4 million in budgetary requests with the Department of Public Safety. The Fairbanks News Miner reports that the specific line items that were cut included funding for two search and rescue helicopters.
  • The House Finance Committee punched the Alaska Marine Highway System in the budgetary gut with a proposed 10% cut in funding, per the Dispatch.
  • It’s worth noting that there was only a 1.7% budget cut passed on legislators’ own budgets, Gov. Bill Walker proposed 5.8%.
  • Former Gov. Sarah Palin spoke at CPAC again! The Washington Post reports that the seat filling public figure’s speech was three Pinocchios worth of inaccuracies, though entertaining to watch.
  • Wasilla businesses are not amused at the recent city council’s decision to make edibles, extracts and concentrates illegal. The Frontiersman reports on talk of litigation and government overreach.

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Alaska News Roundup for Feb. 26

  • Cue the Rocky theme song. CPAC is happening right now and the 2016 GOP presidential contenders are preparing for what is largely considered to be the party’s “silent primary”. Politico has 8 things to watch for. To get the public equally excited, CPAC asked Twitter for questions using the hashtag #CPACQ.  The results will fill your daily snark quota.

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  • Oil Price has an article dedicated to Alaska’s proposal for a state-owned LNG pipeline.
  • The FBI now believes that ISIS suspects can now be found in all 50 states with it being an unknown quantity in Alaska just a few weeks ago, according to The Hill.
  • Sen. Dan Sullivan was a guest on Greta Van Susteren’s show where he eloquently discussed ISIS. Unfortunately, he also tweeted this photo with Van Susteren looking non too pleased and in a defensive posture to boot.

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  • The FCC’s vote on Net Neutrality is happening TODAY. The Hill and Politico have their own take on what the results and repercussions will be.   No matter, the Senate Commerce Committee already has March 18 circled on their calendar to “grill all five Federal Communications Commission members.”

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Alaska News Roundup for Feb. 25

  • The best example of political theater occurred yesterday morning during the when Rep. Harriet Drummond (D-Anchorage) whipped out her personal checkbook and wrote a check for $771 to Alaska’s Best Beginning program in support of her bill that would limit legislators’ pay when not working in Juneau. My little birds in Juneau say the likelihood of the bill passing is slim, but Rep. Drummond does have style.
  • Federal budget cuts to military personnel was the topic of the evening in Fairbanks last night. The Fairbanks News Miner reports that several hundred people packed the Carlson Center to convince Army officials to rethink their current reduction plans. Sen. Lisa Murkowski appeared statesman-like while she video conferenced into the meeting to express her support for maintaining current levels at Alaska’s basis. Sen. Dan Sullivan took notes.

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  • The Monster Day of Pot started with a “Hooray!” and ended with a ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. The Portland Press Herald concurred.
  • The Dispatch’s story behind yesterday’s surprise firing of Bethel’s DA is interesting and has the potential for traction.

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Alaska News Roundup for Feb. 24

  •  Joe Miller posted an article by the Daily Caller that gave Sen. Lisa Murkowski the “prize” for being Runner-up in biggest “Porker” in the U.S. Senate. Is that such a bad thing considering the points Jeremy Hsieh with Gavel Alaska made on Twitter:

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  • Anchorage Mayoral candidate Lance Ahern has launched his campaign website. Probably the only one in the race to use the term Curriculum Vitae. Fancy.
  • The votes on HCR2, the school choice week house resolution, went mostly along party lines with all the members of the House Minority and Rep. Louise Stutes (R-Kodiak) of the House Majority opposing the motion. HCR2 passed 21 to 14.
  • KYUK reported the surprising news that Gov. Bill Walker’s administration fired Bethel’s DA June Stein without comment.

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  • Gov. Bill Walker filed a bill to establish a Marijuana Control Board. It has been given three committees: Labor and Commerce, Judiciary and Finance.
  • Meet the lobbyist most likely to create a national ripple affect for legalized pot: Dan Riffle.
  • Today is not just reserved for legalized toking; it is also marks the first day of the new minimum wage increase from $7.75 to $8.75 an hour. Becky Bohrer with the AP explains how this is expected to benefit our state.

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Alaska News Roundup for Feb. 23

  • Drill baby, drill seems to have been misinterpreted by the Interior Department because part of their new offshore O&G drilling regulations in the Arctic Ocean will be to require two rigs to drill a single well, with one as an emergency backup to dig relief wells for spills. The Hill has the details with palatable frustration from the energy industry, while APRN gives a home court view.
  • Onto a subject that is near and dear to Rep. Craig Johnson’s (R-Anchorage) heart: invasive species! The Washington Post lists the most invasive in the U.S. with Alaska’s menace, the Norway rat, making a distinctive place on the list.

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  • This week in Congress, it is going to be Homeland Security funding centric with a sprinkling of college savings accounts and education reform for good measure. Pun maybe intended.
  • The Alaska legislature will be focusing on budget, confirmation hearings, and the cannabis bill this week
  • Gov. Bill Walker neutrally came to former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s defense at the National Governor’s Association meeting when he spoke with Politico about the mayor’s recent remarks on Obama’s loving America.
  • And then there were two! The Juneau Empire reports that the Commerce Commissioner Chris Hladick has become the latest commissioner to live year-round in Juneau.
  • Calling all political wonks, the National Journal explains how minority voters and seniors will determine the 2016 elections. This will become especially true for Alaska since the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development has discovered that our state’s senior population is quickly becoming the majority age segment.
  • Another one bites the dust! Roland Maw has withdrawn his name for consideration for the Board of Fisheries. APRN reports that this means there are now two seats on the board to fill by April 1.
  • The New York Times’ presents the possible 2016 presidential contenders via their discombobulated floating heads as well as info on what they’ve been up to. Interesting use of right/left column designation. Accidental?
  • Stars and Stripes explains the impact on Alaska’s economy if the Army’s current idea of cutting around 13,000 active duty soldiers becomes a reality.
  • Sen. Dan Sullivan told Ketchikan media that he was supportive of the state owning more of the Tongass National Forest.
  • Sen. Cathy Giessel wrote an op-ed in the Dispatch where she called out Gov. Bill Walker on his perceived misunderstanding of how LNG works in Alaska.
  • How do you solve a problem like the Capitol Lounge? Nathaniel Herz with the Dispatch examines the money pit that fuels the legislators, staffers, media and others through the long days and nights of doing the people’s work.
  • The Daily Mail has a photo spread of contemporary lives in the Arctic Circle with a few pictures of Alaskans being…Alaskan.

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Alaska News Roundup for Feb. 20

  • In the most unexpected way to get traction, Mayoral candidate Jacob Seth Kern left a memorable message on KTUU’s Austin Baird’s voicemail. Apparently putting Mr. Kern on Political Pipeline will make Baird, “the most Jedi Knight in awesome in the galaxy.” The Anchorage mayoral races just got fun!
  • The White House Office of Management and Budget has approved new regulations on oil and gas drilling within the U.S.’ Arctic Ocean boundaries. The Hill explains the plans (that will be made publicly available in a few days) in a nutshell.

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  • Americans for Prosperity, Koch Brothers’ backed group, has raised its heavily financed head and has decided to devote their attention to preventing Alaska’s Medicaid expansion. APRN explains why.
  • Gov. Bill Walker wrote an op-ed in the Dispatch and laid out his case on why the state needs to have ownership control over the gas line.
  • The Intercept made waves yesterday with their article on how the U.S. and the United Kingdom somehow hacked into one of the world’s largest cellphone chip manufacturer located in the Netherlands and have allowed these two governments to steal and spy on private individuals through their cell phones. The Hill has the skinny on these unfolding events.

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Alaska News Roundup for Feb. 19

  • Hold onto your IMSAI 8080, because APRN reports that Alaska is hosting the FIRST International Summit on Arctic Warfare! Think WarGames, but with a Behind Enemy Lines twist.
  • No, the ladies of the Senate and House Minority caucuses have not pulled a Holmes and joined the House Majority. This lovely picture Rep. Charisse Millett tweeted is of the Alaska Legislative Women’s Caucus with Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Paging House Minority Spokesman Michael Mason to the White Curtsey phone: backgrounds matter, just ask Palin.

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  • Port officials with Unalaska are asking Shell to revisit the company’s mooring requests for their drill rigs near some of the most trafficked shipping lanes in the state and according to APRN, “it’s less than ideal.”
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski is taking point on asking the U.S. Sec. of Commerce to allow crude oil exports to Mexico using the same conditions as those used with Canadian trade, per the Oil and Gas Journal.
  • The latest APOC reports show that Dan Coffey wins the crown for Best Fundraiser in the Anchorage mayoral race. Devin Kelly with the Dispatch crunched the numbers and scoured the spreadsheets to discover that he raised $170,625 in the year up to Feb 2. Amy Demoboski has raised $55,352 since she began in August with $32,428 from her own money.
  • The Fairbanks News Miner got the warm and fuzzies over Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s announcement that Pres. Obama will be visiting Alaska in the summer, and then continued to blast him on the administration’s energy policies in her annual legislative address. Not so fast says an unknown White House flack.

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  • The Alaska Board of Game is mulling over the idea to repeal those pesky emergency order hunting seasons for bison since the Alaska Supreme Court ruled last December that buffalo that wander off grazing leases are in fact not wild and therefore not protected.
  • Meet the harshest critic of the FCC’s revised (and still unknown to the public) net neutrality rules: GOP FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai. Politico explains who Pai is and why he matters in the debate over the Internet’s future.
  • Sen. Lesil McGuire (R-Anchorage) told a packed audience during the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing of SB30 (the senate pot bill) that she estimates the revised bill will be ready for the Senate Finance Committee on Friday. The Dispatch explains the revisions to the bill, including the new designation of marijuana as a regulated substance and not as a controlled substance.
  • Gov. Bill Walker concedes that Juneau isn’t for everyone in a letter regarding the lack of permanent capital city based state department commissioners. The Juneau Empire has the backstory, the outrage and the realities of living in the largest state in the Union.
  • The AP and GfK conducted an online poll of 1,045 adults utilizing a GfK algorithm to better ensure a true representation of the U.S. population and discovered that six in ten Americans want to increase the minimum wage. The Hill and International Business Times explain what the results mean in laymen’s terms.
  • KRBD has a piece on Sen. Dan Sullivan’s review of his first month in office. One of his main points of pride: co-sponsoring the Clay Hunt suicide prevention bill.
  • For Alaskans that heart themselves some Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), your wait for his presidential announcement is almost over. The New York Times reports that you should mark your calendar for April 7.
  • KTOO reports that more than 21K Alaskans signed up for healthcare.gov, which was a 62% increase over last year for the state. The national average was 41%.
  • The Washington Post explains the findings of the latest Gallup poll that puts Alaska in the #1 spot for well-being. Florida, with all its sun and beaches, came in at 23.

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Alaska News Roundup for Feb. 18

  • Amongst the coverage of angst posturing from most of our elected officials, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell’s announcement of $8 million being made available to Alaska Native and American Indian communities to adapt and plan for climate change got lost in the local reporting. No worries, The Hill has you covered.
  • The Dispatch covered the heated discourse between Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell over the threat of budget cuts to the Alaska division of the Interior Department.
  • Marco Rubio (R-FL) has 99 problems, but his gift of gab ain’t one. Vocativ & GovTrack teamed up to crunch the numbers and discovered that Sen. Rubio has missed the highest % of votes than any other serving senator. Who else made the naughty list? Rep. Don Young came in at #2 with 14.8% and Sen. Lisa Murkowski at #7 with 4.83%. The Washington Post and Politico both have fun with explaining these charts.
  • Rep. Bill Stoltze (R-Chugiak) is turning his focus onto the t with the introduction of SB39 to repeal the $170 million in film tax credits that have given us such gems as Buying Alaska.
  • Erin’s Law is quickly becoming Juneau’s cause du célébrité with not one, but FOUR identical bills on this issue. The Dispatch explains the sponsors behind this questionable use of time and legislative resources. Rep. Geran Tarr (D-Anchorage) has a SoundCloud of why she is going to continue to work on the passage of her version.
  • North Pole announced to the Fairbanks News Miner that they are the first borough in the state to approve cannabis consumption regulations for their constituents. Then, they dropped their MIC and swaggered away.
  • An important case involving Alaska’s regulation on low-income abortion restrictions is underway in the State Superior Court in Anchorage, per APRN.
  • Ready your dip nets and salmon permits for the Peninsula Clarion announced that the Department of Fish and Game are anticipating an early run on Chinook with more than twice (5,265 fish) the expected run from 2014 on the Kenai. This comes on the heels of KTUU’s segment on a recent report that advises changes to the Commercial Fisheries Entry
  • Nick Bowman with the Ketchikan Daily News reports that the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly is floating the idea of a state forest within the federally protected Tongass National Forest.
  • KTOO has the skinny on Gov. Bill Walker’s new Senior Advisor on Rural Business and Intergovernmental Affairs, Gerad Godfrey.
  • The New York Times has a great ongoing debate regarding offshore O&G drilling in the Atlantic and yes; Alaska is mentioned quite a bit by both sides of the argument.
  • The City and Borough of Juneau have approved the ALICE strategy (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) with potential mass shooting scenarios, per the Juneau Empire.
  • KTUU reported that a bill that would require background checks on mental healthcare providers before they would be allowed to practice within the state moved from the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee despite concerns being raised by the Alaska Psychological Association about the bill’s language and how the information would be used.
  • The New York Times reports on the important perspective Veterans (like Sen. Dan Sullivan) can offer Congress during times of conflict.
  • Peer inside the minds of Alaska’s policymakers regarding the future of our state’s burgeoning cannabis commercial industry with the Dispatch.
  • The Washington Post has an interesting article reveals to the degree that former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) is “his own man”, complete with a colorful Venn diagram.
  • Dust off your dancing shoes because the Anchorage Assembly has approved the liquor license transfer for Platinum Jaxx Building’s new business! APRN has the details.
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Alaska News Roundup for Feb. 17

  • While the Fairbanks News Miner reveals that 42K Alaskans would be eligible for Medicaid expansion with a savings of $6.6million for the state; the Juneau Empire explains how members of the House Finance subcommittee feel about Medicaid expansion and what they would prefer over Bill Walker’s proposal. The pushback didn’t stop Rep. Scott Kawaski from tweeting the following:

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  • The Frontiersman was on hand to report on the recent Board of Game meeting that extends through February 20th in Wasilla. Apparently, “sheep hunting” is not only a thing, but also a “hot topic” within the hunting community.
  • KTVA has footage of our Alaskan delegation’s press conference in Anchorage on their way to Kotzebue with the ever-elegant Sen. Lisa Murkowski in a lilac puffer coat.

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  • APRN covered the anticipated confrontation of Gov. Bill Walker, Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott, 10 state legislators and our federal Delegation “against” Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell.
  • Andreas Kuersten with NOAA takes up the banner for developing Arctic infrastructure (including a deep water harbor in Nome) with a piece in The Hill.
  • For the spreadsheet wonks, here is the link to all of last year’s executive travel and compensation. Have Fun!
  • Holy hard drive Batman! The NSA can and has been delving into the nether regions of our personal hard drives. The Hill reports on this discovery by Kaspersky Lab where they charted more than 500 spying attacks in more than 300 countries.

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AM Alaska News Roundup for Feb. 16

  • The Alaska legislature will be focusing on marijuana, the state’s budget this week with special interest with Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s speech on Wednesday, per the Fairbanks News Miner.
  • The leaked internal EPA memos on Pebble Mine are making waves. The Washington Post expounds on the controversial mine‘s litigious saga over the watershed’s future and how the players are interpreting the memos.
  • The Seward City Manager has a News Update in today’s Seward City News. There seems to be enough odd odors wafting around Seward to deserve their own non-emergency line with the Seward Police Department.
  • The New York Times reports that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has moved away from an earlier decision to align itself with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the smallest “footprint” in beginning the process for O&G production on federal lands in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.

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  • The Army Corp of Engineers explains to APRN why the state needs to expand Nome’s Deep-Water port.
  • The FAA has finally released their regulations regarding small drones for commercial use. Politico and The Hill explain how this will affect life, as we know it.

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AM Alaska News Roundup for Feb. 13

  • Exxon Mobil has signaled renewed interest in Alaska’s LNG when they submitted a $500 million project draft environmental report to FERC one day after Bill Walker announced he was dropping his Pt. Thompson lawsuit, according to UPI.
  • Gavel to Gavel’s Jeremy Hsieh explains the goings on during Week 4 of the state legislature.

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  • CH2M Hill is no longer planning to sale off their Alaska holdings and considers their future involvement in Alaska to be business as usual, per the Peninsula Clarion.
  • The Frontiersman announced that Terry Snyder has been appointed as the new President for AARP. This organization is reknown for having a formidable lobbying arm and Snyder’s business acumen will help to ensure AARP’s continued presence in legislative matters.

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  • The debate over Homeland Security funding is revealing hidden cracks within the GOP’s pubic united front. Politico and The Hill mention Sen. Dan Sullivan’s involvement in shooting down an idea to change Senate rules’ to prevent the ability for a legislative filibuster.
  • Rep. Tammie Wilson wants to eliminate board-generated proposals within state fisheries and game boards, according to the Fairbanks News Miner.
  • The Alaska Office of Subsistence Management explained to the Kodiak Daily Mirror that they are looking to alter how communities around the state are designated rural or non-rural with regards to subsistence.
  • The Alaska Retirement Management Board had bad news for legislators regarding the state’s retirement fund. Their analysis showed that previous legislative changes will now cost Alaskans billions more in the upcoming years in order to meet funding requirements, according to the Dispatch.
  • The Juneau Empire covered the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly that focused on all things pot. They created a new committee being chaired by Jesse Kiel to take point on these issues.
  • KTUU covered the pushback by legislators regarding Gov. Bill Walker’s proposal of 90% forward funding for education for 2017.
  • UPI reports that the U.S. Interior Department is edging closer to opening offshore drilling in the Chukchi Sea with a federal decision to be made in late March.
  • AVTEC’s vocational and technical schools will be getting the ax as part of the Department of Labor and Workforce Development budget cuts. APRN reports that this will save the state a little more than $450,000.
  • The Dispatch has updates on the Anchorage Assembly: the next mayor has the opportunity to receive the freshly approved pay increase and the Assembly Chambers themselves were upgraded with bullet-resistant panels.
  • State legislators heard testimony about the need for communities to be able to legally opt-out of commercial marijuana, per the Juneau Empire.
  • The Washington Post explains who the six conservative GOP presidential hopefuls are that will be speaking at the Club for Growth’s private event later this month. Club for Growth might sound familiar as one of the groups that backed Sen. Dan Sullivan’s successful bid for his senate seat.
  • The Fairbanks News Miner was on hand to cover the North Star Borough Assembly meeting where they were putting the final touches on the clean air proposal.
  • The Peninsula Clarion reports that Soldotna is looking to the state for clarification on the city’s marijuana regulations.
  • The Washington Post combed through the FEC reports and discovered that Sen. Lisa Murkowski has raised $200,000.00 in the past three months with a total of $903,000.00 on hand for her reelection war chest.
  • Satirical writer, humorist and American treasure Mark Twain was also an accomplished diplomat? Politico reveals the important role he played in streathening relations between the U.S. and Russia following the unpopular purchase/sale of Alaska.
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AM Alaska News Roundup for Feb. 12

  • It’s a bird! It’s a plane! No, it’s a state sponsored drone. The Juneau Empire reports that major technology companies are racing to get contracts with UAF’s Alaska Center for Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration because it is one of only six drone flight testing centers in the country and companies have to prove their drones are safe in order to be granted exemptions by the FAA.
  • The Dispatch reveals that the Anchorage Salary and Emoluments Commission is in the process to raise the Anchorage mayor’s salary from about $129,064 to $139,180 at the end of Mayor Dan Sullivan’s term. Public testimony on this is tonight in room 240 at City Hall between 5:00-6:00pm.
  • The Soldotna City Council voted against granting the Central Peninsula Health Foundation $350,000 (50% of what the foundation needed) so it could purchase a golf course, according to the Peninsula Clarion.
  • Gavel Alaska shows once more that the Alaska Senate’s glockenspiel moves put others (including the Metropolitan Opera) to shame.
  • In a move not experienced since the days of former Gov. Sarah Palin, Gov. Bill Walker spoke before a committee yesterday before leaving to prepare for his official presser about his plans to drop the Point Thompson lawsuit. APRN has the story and Matt Buxton with the Fairbanks News Miner live tweeted the entire drama as it unfolded, complete with pictures (!).
  • The House Majority held an press conference of their own and put out a press release.

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  • Alaska Legislative Finance has launched their own Twitter account.

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AM Alaska News Roundup for Feb. 11

  • Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced that Chukchi Sea’s Hanna Shoal is now off-limits for oil drilling in part to protect the Pacific walrus, per the New York Times.
  • It was a speedo that sank the appointment of Jeff Landfield for the board that oversees judicial ethics. This Dispatch has the details, but the “incriminating evidence” has been circulating.Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 10.02.02 AM Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 10.01.50 AM

 

  • In a cleaver Tom Sawyer move; state economists described reviewing the Indirect Expenditures as an expedition in yesterday’s House Finance committee hearing. It was enough to get Matt Buxton with the Fairbanks News Miner (and possibly a few legislators) envious of their jobs.

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  • Shell Exploration & Production Company have signaled the beginning of oil drilling season with their public application for two drilling rig moorings near Dutch Harbor.
  • The Peninsula Clarion was on hand during the Kenai City Council’s recent meeting where the prospect of launching a virtual city council was discussed. How cool is that?
  • The Juneau Empire if following the development of a State Supreme Court Case involving Tier 1 state retirement benefits.
  • The federal Department of Energy (DOE) is planning to update its 20-year-old residential gas furnace efficiency rates to be at 92% fuel utilization, according to The Hill. What this means for Fairbanks and their ongoing struggle with air quality requirements vs. expense is unknown.

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AM Alaska News Roundup for Feb. 10

  • The ongoing soap opera between Charlo (F*@k it, I quit) Greene and APOC over potential campaign finance law violations is covered by the Dispatch. To which Ms. Green responded with the following tweet:

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  • Rep. Harriet Drummond (D-Anchorage) has introduced legislation that legalizes assisted suicide for the terminally ill with the help of physician prescribed pharmaceuticals, per APRN.
  • Alberta is looking at Alaska with bedroom eyes over the idea of shipping oil-sands through Alaska, as the Keystone is quickly becoming a permanent pipedream, according to Bloomberg.
  • A Point MacKenzie farm might soon be wafting a different type of perfume into the air if the proposal to cover their fields with close to 2 tons of dry treated sewage sludge gets the green light. The Frontiersman explains the idea and that the state DEC public comment period on this issue ends March 3.
  • Sen. Lisa Murkowski’s fight with the EPA appears to be one of slow and deliberate tactics instead of the guns a blazing style, per Politico.

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