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Alex DeMarban

President Barack Obama’s decision to support continued exploration in the often ice-choked U.S. Arctic Ocean, while trying to lock up development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, comes with a glaring irony. After all, many believe a severe oil spill in the remote ocean above Alaska would be far more catastrophic than one on land.

But a comparison of two apparently oil-rich areas on opposite sides of Alaska’s Arctic -- ANWR to the east and Royal Dutch Shell’s Burger prospect 70 miles off the coast of Northwest Alaska in the Chukchi Sea -- shows a mixed bag of pros and cons...

Alex DeMarban,Yereth Rosen

Emotions continued to rise on Monday over President Barack Obama’s initiative to increase protection for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, with Rep. Don Young calling the president a “wacko,” the North Slope Borough saying Obama was acting by “executive fiat,” and Sen. Lisa Murkowski saying the Alaska delegation would use all means to stop the move.

Not everyone is angry. Conservationists in Alaska and outside the state praised Obama, saying that while his recommendation currently has no practical change on refuge management, the action replaces Reagan-era policy and will send an enduring signal of the administration’s commitment to protecting wilderness...

Alex DeMarban

In a sign the honeymoon may be nearing an end for Gov. Bill Walker, an Alaska tribal government is blasting him for promoting a ConocoPhillips project that would result in the first oil production from federal lands in the nation’s largest undeveloped reserve.

The criticism -- coming from the North Slope village of Nuiqsut -- may mark a turning point for a governor who rode into office with strong Alaska Native support and a popular running mate in Byron Mallott, a Tlingit from Southeast. Ironically, the complaints come as Walker takes early steps to strengthen the state’s bruised relations with more than 200-plus tribes...

Alex DeMarban

President Barack Obama said Sunday that he planned to ask Congress to declare much of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as wilderness, including its 1.5-million-acre coastal plain, an area on Alaska’s North Slope suspected to contain vast reserves of oil and gas.

The designation would forever prevent exploration and production on the coastal plain, but Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said the idea would be dead on arrival in the Republican-led Congress...

Richard Mauer,Alex DeMarban,Nathaniel Herz

ConocoPhillips said on Thursday it will not move forward with an oil-patch prospect that could produce the first drops of oil from the nation’s largest reserve unless the federal agency in charge accepts its proposed development plan.

At issue is a project known as Greater Moose's Tooth Unit 1 in the northeast corner of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska, an Indiana-sized chunk of untouched federal land on Alaska's North Slope west of Prudhoe Bay...

Alex DeMarban

Oral arguments were heard Tuesday in the state’s legal bid to crack open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to its first oil and gas exploration in decades, with lawyers jousting in federal court over whether Congress wanted updates on the oil potential of a coastal swath of the 19-million-acre refuge atop Alaska.

And in Washington, D.C., an aide to Sen. Lisa Murkowski said that as the new chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Murkowski is strategizing on the best way to convince Congress to open the 1.5-million-acre coastal stretch of the refuge, set aside by Congress in 1980 for hydrocarbon evaluation...

Alex DeMarban

More than 20,000 Mexicans living in Alaska -- including those who had lived here illegally and plan to sign up for President Barack Obama’s immigration program -- will have an easier time getting birth certificates.

That’s thanks to a service launched last week by the Mexican government to allow certified copies of those records to be issued by embassies and consulates around the world, including the Mexican consulate in Alaska.

Previously, Mexicans had to travel to the towns and cities where they were registered as newborns -- or have relatives do it for them and mail them the birth certificates -- in a painstaking effort to get the paperwork needed to acquire passports, driver’s licenses and work permits...

Alex DeMarban

Leaders of the Alaska House and Senate said Thursday that cutting spending will be their top priority in what they expect will be a tumultuous session in Juneau, with municipal revenue sharing and the popular home energy rebate program among the items potentially on the chopping block.

“Everything is on the table,” said Sen. Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage, incoming Senate president.

Everything that is, except finding new ways to raise revenue in a state that gets most of its general funds from the oil industry.

”Frankly I really don’t even want to discuss additional revenue sources other than maybe marijuana because we have to,” said Meyer, adding that the fishing, mining and oil and gas industries are already overtaxed...

Alex DeMarban

A Cook Inlet hydrocarbon explorer wants a state corporation to invest $50 million in a project that could soon help ease Southcentral Alaska’s natural gas dilemma.

An official with Furie Operating Alaska said the state’s investment would help improve the economics of the roughly $300 million project that will tap gas from the Kitchen Lights Unit northeast of the Kenai Peninsula community of Nikiski.

On Wednesday, the seven-member board of the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority unanimously agreed to enter into a contract with the Texas-based company to study details of the project and develop a finance plan to help determine if the state should become an equity partner...

Alex DeMarban

State transportation officials plan to redirect more than $150 million in federal funds intended for a pair of controversial megaprojects and put the money toward less glamorous efforts such as road maintenance and bridge replacement.

But the Knik Arm bridge and Juneau Access project -- two of several megaprojects targeted by Gov. Bill Walker for possible elimination – are not dead, transportation officials said.

If they are killed, however, an additional $500 million or so over the next five years could also be dedicated to road maintenance, rehabilitation and other state projects receiving federal highway funds, said Jeremy Woodrow, a spokesperson with the state Department of Transportation...

Alex DeMarban