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Pat Forgey

JUNEAU - Russia's Rosneft oil company, facing U.S. sanctions following Russia's seizure of part of neighboring Ukraine, won't be buying part of the huge Point Thomson natural gas field on Alaska's North Slope, Exxon Mobil said Wednesday.

Rosneft, one of the world's top oil producers along with Exxon, received the option last year as part of an agreement the two companies signed to expand their strategic cooperation in the Arctic.

But now, Exxon says Rosneft won't be part of the development of Point Thomson.

"Rosneft had evaluated the opportunity, and elected not to participate," said Kimberly Jordan, an Exxon spokeswoman for the company segment that includes Point Thomson and other Alaska operations...

Pat Forgey

JUNEAU -- A Mendenhall Glacier ice cave that had become a popular but increasingly dangerous attraction has collapsed, according to the U.S. Forest Service.

Pictures showing the ice cave's spectacular blue color has made it a desirable, albeit difficult, spot to visit.

"The popularity is mostly in the name only, because it is hard to get to, and most tourists don't have the time or ability to get there," said John Neary, director of the Forest Service's Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center.

The ice that forms the cave's roof was getting increasingly thin, and Neary had just issued a public warning that it was dangerous to visit before Friday's reported collapse...

Pat Forgey

JUNEAU -- Prompted by last year's killing of an unarmed village public safety officer in Manokotak, the state will soon allow the Native associations that employ the officers to allow them to carry handguns.

After the death of VPSO Thomas Madole, Rep. Bryce Edgmon, D-Dillingham, asked the Alaska Legislature to expand the powers of VPSOs. His bill was passed unanimously by the Legislature and signed into law Friday in Naknek by Gov. Sean Parnell...

Pat Forgey

JUNEAU -- A controversial half-billion-dollar road out of Juneau has been delayed again, ending chances construction could start as soon as this fall.

Now the new Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement for the Juneau Access Improvement Project isn't scheduled for release until "late" in the year, according to a posting on the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities' project website...

Pat Forgey

JUNEAU -- A new study says that Alaska has the most volatile state revenues in the nation, with income fluctuating more than twice as much as that of its nearest rivals -- which are often also resource states.

The study recommends that states set up and make regular deposits into "rainy day" funds, into which they can dip when tax revenues fall short.

This week, some leaders of past efforts to plan for the future said Alaska needs to resume those efforts, and new deficits may actually prompt that.

"When we've been flush, the public sees large surpluses and comes to us looking for things that the public thinks are good and needed," said Rep. Mike Hawker, R-Anchorage.

Then legislators respond with more spending...

Pat Forgey

JUNEAU - Stock markets are at all-time highs, which might make this a risky time to invest in equities. Bonds are no better, with yields so low that investing there won't do much good, and might be risky as well.

But it is those financial markets in which state chief investment officer Gary Bader was handed $1 billion to invest, and he was told he's expected to make at least 8 percent per year on it for 30 years.

Oh, and he'd better not lose it, either.

"There's going to be a lot of eyes on how this is invested, and we just want to do it as prudently as we possibly can," said Bader...

Pat Forgey

JUNEAU -- A surge of water released from behind an ice dam flowed through Juneau this week but crested late in the day Friday and had emergency officials breathing a sigh of relief.

"We did see a few homes, in areas that we're used to, get flooded, but it looks like the event has crested and started to subside," said Tom Mattice, emergency manager for the City and Borough of Juneau.

"We still have resources in the field, but it looks like we're on the right side of the curve," he said...

Pat Forgey

JUNEAU -- It's been pouring rain in Juneau lately, which has some people bracing for a new and unusual kind of flooding precipitated by climate change.

High above Juneau's populous Mendenhall Valley, Suicide Basin is filling with rainwater, snowmelt and ice, which is being held back by a dam of the Mendenhall Glacier.

Sometime soon, the water may come surging toward town.

Scientists studying the glacier say there are indications the dam will soon release and send billions of gallons of water surging toward the lake at the terminus of the glacier, then into the Mendenhall River.

Eran Hood of the University of Alaska Southeast is part of a team watching the basin and says a release appears to be imminent...

Pat Forgey

JUNEAU -- The one highway on which Alaskans have long been encouraged to drink while traveling is the Alaska Marine Highway, but budget cuts will eliminate that pastime for some -- and possibly all, eventually -- state ferry travelers.

On Alaska state ferries, the designated driver is a licensed vessel captain, but unfortunately for some bar patrons, the bar is costing the ferry system more than it's bringing in.

Department of Transportation and Public Facilities officials say that given tight state funds, and the fact that intoxicated passengers can occasionally be a problem for ferry crews, bars can no longer be justified...

Pat Forgey

JUNEAU -- The one highway on which Alaskans have long been encouraged to drink while traveling is the Alaska Marine Highway, but budget cuts will eliminate that pastime for some -- and possibly all, eventually -- state ferry travelers.

On Alaska state ferries, the designated driver is a licensed vessel captain, but unfortunately for some bar patrons, the bar is costing the ferry system more than it’s bringing in.

Department of Transportation and Public Facilities says that given tight state funds, and the fact that intoxicated passengers can occasionally be a problem for ferry crews, bars can no longer be justified...

Pat Forgey

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