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Alex DeMarban

An apparently surprise discovery of natural gas near Cook Inlet has sparked a dispute: What to do with tens of millions of dollars in potential profit?

Should all or much of the gain be used to benefit electric and gas rate payers in Southcentral Alaska? The state attorney general's office says that approach appears to be supported by precedent.

Or should the profits go to the owners of Cook Inlet Natural Gas Storage Alaska? Officials there say they should, and argue that the gas was found during the creation of the underground storage reservoir they paid for...

Alex DeMarban

State and federal regulators were hurrying to the North Slope on Monday in an effort to determine why a relatively new pipeline at a field owned by Hilcorp and BP ruptured over the weekend, spilling an unknown amount of crude oil, water and other fluids at a site about 25 miles from Deadhorse.

Hilcorp, a North Slope newcomer that began operating the Milne Point field in November, discovered the spill in the 6-year-old line early Saturday morning.

Initial cleanup efforts were stopped by what the state Department of Environmental Conservation called “severe blizzard-like conditions." But by that afternoon responders had used a vacuum truck to recover an estimated 4,000 gallons that was a mixture of spilled liquids, snow and ice...

Alex DeMarban

The Walker administration’s proposal to slash staff at a wildland firefighting camp in Western Alaska will increase the danger to people and property across a massive swath of the state, villagers said.

But the forester behind the decision to cut 16 seasonal positions from the base in McGrath said the state’s staggering $3.5 billion deficit precipitated the need for big changes.

“We were asked to look at programmatic reductions and not shave off the top,” said Chris Maisch, the state’s forestry director. “We were looking for the biggest bang for our buck.”...

Alex DeMarban

The largest tribe in Alaska said it will conduct marriage ceremonies -- including for same-sex couples -- as part of its effort to exercise its tribal sovereignty and provide more services to its 29,000 members.

The president of the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, based in Juneau, said this may be the first time an Alaska tribe has offered such services.

The state, concerned about threats to its authority, has often challenged attempts by tribal governments to expand their powers. Gov. Bill Walker, however, has indicated his administration will work closely with tribes to resolve issues instead of facing them in court...

Alex DeMarban

Facing allegations that it improperly warehoused foster children at North Star psychiatric hospital in Anchorage, the Alaska Office of Children’s Services has been ordered by a state Superior Court judge not to keep children at the facility for indefinite periods of time.

The order is part of a preliminary injunction issued by Superior Court Judge Erin Marston that said a minor, admitted to the acute psychiatric hospital during an emergency, cannot remain there longer than 30 days without court approval.

But that length of time may change. As a next step, the judge has asked parties in the case to offer recommendations on the appropriate period of time a minor should be kept at the hospital before a court can weigh in...

Alex DeMarban

Three years ago, in one hellacious winter, National Guard soldiers shoveled Cordova out from under 18 feet of snow, an icebreaker helped a Russian fuel tanker deliver emergency heating fuel to Nome and Bering Sea crabbers were frozen out of their fishing grounds.

My, how things have changed.

Those icy dramas of Alaska's recent past have given way to record warmth. Lakes are soft, grass is green and snow depths statewide are being measured in inches instead of feet...

Alex DeMarban

As his administration works to create a framework for interacting with Alaska’s 229 federally recognized tribes , Gov. Bill Walker announced Tuesday that he has named Gerad Godfrey as his rural and intergovernmental affairs adviser.

Godfrey, an Alutiiq who serves as director of corporate affairs for Afognak Native Corporation, said he’s passionate about bridging the gap between rural Alaska and the rest of the state...

Alex DeMarban

KOTZEBUE -- Alaska leaders continued to pressure U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell at a rare event in Northwest Alaska on Tuesday, with Sen. Lisa Murkowski saying that reducing the budget of the Interior Department is just one of the tools she has to control the agency.

Jewell took the threat seriously, saying jobs in Alaska are on the line if that happens.

The comments, made separately to reporters, were part of an ongoing turf battle between state and federal officials that at times has overshadowed a board retreat organized by the Alaska Federation of Natives, the state’s most prominent Alaska Native group...

Alex DeMarban

Declaring that litigation and dialog appear to be getting the state nowhere, several Alaska lawmakers said after a meeting with the U.S. interior secretary on Monday that they’ll be looking to the Alaska congressional delegation for help thwarting a federal government they claim is out of control.

Sen. Dan Sullivan and Rep. Don Young, reached late Monday night, said they’re eager to help -- and work with Sen. Lisa Murkowski, chair of the Senate Energy Committee, which oversees the Interior Department...

Alex DeMarban

KIVALINA -- In a whirlwind visit to Northwest Alaska on an unseasonably warm day, U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell on Monday told residents of this climate-threatened village that she would work with them on their relocation efforts.

Jewell is in the Arctic region at the invitation of the Alaska Federation of Natives. The state’s most powerful Native organization had organized a retreat in the hub city of Kotzebue for its 37-member board and wanted Jewell to address climate change and other issues affecting Alaska Natives in the Far North...

Alex DeMarban

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