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Pat Forgey

JUNEAU -- The Parnell administration is saying more information is needed about the threat posed to Alaska by a huge Canadian mine, but officials didn’t ask the Canadian government outright to review approvals by the pro-mining province of British Columbia.

Alaska fishing, tribal and conservation groups have been outspoken in seeking a more thorough inquiry into approval of the KSM mine by the province, calling for a Canadian federal "panel" review. They've won support from Sens. Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski, who have asked for the U.S. State Department to get involved in protecting Alaska interests, and from Southeast legislators...

Pat Forgey

Update: Here are the latest -- and in most cases, final -- results for the races below.

JUNEAU -- At least one Alaska legislator is losing their seat in Tuesday's primary election, but others may be in danger as well.

And two sitting members of the state House of Representatives have taken their first steps to becoming senators.

Two-term Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole, is holding a lead over first-term Rep. Doug Isaacson, also of North Pole, for the House District 3 seat...

Pat Forgey

JUNEAU -- In hindsight, maybe it wasn't such a good idea to drill holes in the Skagway public dock's watertight compartments. Still, it did work for 36 years.

Last spring though, the dock, where Alaska state ferries and other vessels moor, mysteriously sank.

One morning, the dock -- which was supposed to be floating -- was sitting on the ocean floor. No one new why.

Borough manager Scott Hahn had been on the job about a week when Skagway lost one of its links to the rest of Alaska.

"I was just basically getting my feet wet at the time," he said...

Pat Forgey

JUNEAU -- A toll bridge the Parnell administration wants to build across Knik Arm will likely be financially successful, state transportation officials say, based on the success of the bridge that connects Juneau's Douglas Island neighborhoods with the rest of the capital city.

But why are state transportation officials reaching all the way to Juneau for an unlikely comparison to a toll-free bridge when they already have an actual toll road, through the Whittier tunnel, they could have used as an example?

Perhaps it’s because the Whittier toll road shows the potential pitfalls of relying on drivers to directly fund roads...

Pat Forgey

JUNEAU -- After a massive mine waste spill in Canada, Alaska state and Canadian federal officials are being asked to do more to protect parts of Alaska downstream of several Canadian mines.

"That water belongs to us, too," said Rob Sanderson, a Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indians of Alaska vice-president and co-chair of the United Tribal Transboundary Mining Workshop...

Pat Forgey

JUNEAU -- A huge mine waste spill in one of Canada's most productive salmon-producing rivers has Alaska fishermen fearing for their livelihoods and sympathizing with their counterparts in Canada.

"This is just heartbreaking," said Katherine Carscallen, who grew up in Dillingham and gillnets in Bristol Bay.

"This is what we've been afraid of happening here, and just seeing it play out in someone else's life the way it could happen here is terrible," she said.

The ground rock from which metals have been extracted are called "tailings," and are often held behind massive earthen dams, often made of tailings themselves, as they were in the recent Canadian spill...

Pat Forgey

JUNEAU -- It’s not clear who thought it would be a good idea for Gov. Sean Parnell’s new fisheries adviser to have mining instead of fishing experience but some people in the fishing industry aren’t happy about it.

“We are already aware of where the governor’s sympathies lie," said Gina Friccero of Kodiak, whose family fishes for salmon in Bristol Bay and halibut out the Aleutian chain.

“He is suing the EPA, which is trying to protect the Bristol Bay salmon run; this is just another slap in the face to fishing families,” she said...

Pat Forgey

JUNEAU -- ConocoPhillips profits rose in Alaska last quarter, even as Alaska production fell, the company announced Thursday.

The company's earnings in the quarter ending June 30 were $627 million, up from $598 million in the first quarter. Oil production fell by 7,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day, to 193 million BOE, during the quarter.

The company attributed the decline to planned downtime and normal field decline, partially offset by new drilling.

Conoco's companywide profits increased during the quarter, to about $2 billion, compared to $1.75 billion in the same quarter last year, excluding special items, or about 12.5 percent...

Pat Forgey

Global warming could threaten Alaska's status as one of the nation's most desirable tourist destinations, warn scientists studying climate change.

"Biodiversity changes, particularly if they relate to charismatic wildlife -- everybody talks about polar bears, and whales and seals in the marine environment. Anything that impacts those negatively runs the risk of sort of killing the goose that lays the golden eggs," said Peter Convey, polar ecologist with the British Antarctic Survey...

Pat Forgey

JUNEAU -- The Alaska Housing Finance Corp. is hurting, and what it needs to get better is for Alaskans to pay more for their mortgages.

The state-owned housing agency makes most of its money from its central business of borrowing money on Wall Street and lending it to Alaskans to buy homes. It also finances multifamily developments and public housing projects and carries out missions such as home weatherization funded by the Alaska Legislature.

In years past, that business model made a good living for the corporation, enough even to pay dividends back to the state. It also provided Alaskans with cheaper loans than they could get elsewhere...

Pat Forgey