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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

The news remains bleak for a state hooked on oil production and price, with the U.S. Energy Information Administration forecasting an average price of $58 per barrel in 2015. It's a figure that, if it proves to be accurate, will leave Alaska billions of dollars in the red.

In its short-term outlook issued Tuesday, the administration also said it expected oil to average $75 a barrel in 2016.

The look ahead comes on the heels of the recent decision by investment banking firm Goldman Sachs to reduce its 2015 oil price forecast to $40 a barrel...

Alex DeMarban

Collapsing oil prices have delayed at least two North American liquefied natural gas export projects, but they haven’t stopped Alaska's massive LNG venture in part because of its size, projected timelines and a partnership involving some of the world’s largest companies, officials said.

“Our mission hasn’t changed, and to my knowledge none of the investing companies are looking to change that at this time either,” said Steve Butt, senior manager for Alaska LNG and an Exxon employee.

Butt has referred to the proposal -- which comes with an estimated price tag between $45 billion and more than $65 billion -- as a “gigaproject,” a supersized megaproject involving the state, Exxon, BP and ConocoPhillips as equity partners...

Alex DeMarban

The president of BP America responded to Gov. Bill Walker’s recent claim that the state’s new oil production tax is costing Alaska hundreds of millions of dollars, telling a pro-industry group on Friday that the energy giant doesn’t fall under that category.

“BP pays more in production taxes than we receive in credits, despite what you see in the papers,” said John Minge, referring to a recent opinion column submitted to media by the new governor...

Alex DeMarban

Targeted by new Gov. Bill Walker as he looks to cut costs and increase transparency, the state corporation working on two megaprojects dramatically downshifted spending plans and took steps to find a way forward if new appointees don’t sign the confidentiality pledge the governor opposes.

The board of the Alaska Gasline Development Corp., in charge of advancing the $10 billion Alaska Standalone Pipeline, met Thursday in Anchorage with three empty chairs after Walker this week removed Al Bolea, Dick Rabinow and Drue Pearce.

That left the board with only four members, two of them also new because they’re filling the seats set aside for two of the governor's commissioners...

Alex DeMarban

Gov. Bill Walker says he wants broader representation and more transparency on the Alaska Gasline Development Corp., but Republican critics in the Legislature assailed his decision to reshuffle its board of directors.

The Republican leader of the state House, Rep. Mike Chenault of Nikiski, said he was disappointed in Walker’s decision to remove two former oil company executives and a former legislator from the seven-member board.

“I have concerns. There’s 60 years of experience there that we got rid of,” Chenault said, referring to former Exxon executive Richard Rabinow of Texas, former legislator Drue Pearce and former BP executive Al Bolea...

Alex DeMarban,Dermot Cole

With the state facing eye-popping deficits, hundreds of Alaskans have responded to Gov. Bill Walker’s recent online call for cost-cutting and moneymaking ideas, suggesting everything from a state lottery to four-day school weeks.

The Internet crowdsourcing, which in its opening hour brought more than 1,100 responses from state employees, is designed to help Walker and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott find potential fixes for a state suddenly facing a $7 billion budget gap over two years because state tax revenues have tanked with oil prices...

Alex DeMarban