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Dermot Cole

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has rejected two high-profile Alaska cases dealing with federal authority in Alaska, largely because of a six-letter word Congress inserted into a sentence in the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act 34 years ago.

In both cases, the court has concluded that the state and private parties challenging the National Park Service have misinterpreted the law because they are not giving the word its due...

Dermot Cole

At the request of Gov. Sean Parnell, the Legislature approved a $25 million appropriation in 2012 to start work on a $125 million launchpad at the Kodiak rocket range.

“Lockheed Martin will work to secure the additional funding needed to build the launch complex,” the backup document submitted to lawmakers by the Department of Military & Veterans Affairs said.

“Construction of this additional launch pad will not only bring business to Alaska, but it will also create high-paying jobs in the future,” Parnell said in 2012. ...

Dermot Cole

Oil prices have been relatively stable in the past few years, a Department of Revenue analyst said Wednesday, addressing the new state board charged with assessing Alaska’s competitive position in the oil and gas world.

Stable, he said, until about a month ago, “when all hell broke loose.”

Just a day earlier, Gov. Sean Parnell, while debating independent challenger Bill Walker in Fairbanks, mentioned “today’s oil prices,” which he said were in the $88 to $90 range. But he was quoting numbers from last week.

The price for Alaska oil dipped to $82.80 on Tuesday and $82.16 on Wednesday...

Dermot Cole

In February, Gov. Sean Parnell asked for an investigation of the Alaska National Guard in a letter that included positive comments about how Maj. Gen. Tom Katkus had dealt with allegations of sexual assault .

But this week, in a video message to Alaskans, Parnell said he had concluded by the time he wrote the letter that he could not trust Katkus...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS -- An initiative to extend a ban on local efforts to curb air pollution from wood smoke failed after the final votes were counted from last week's election , opening the door for the Fairbanks North Star Borough to consider local control measures as it works with the state to reduce pollution levels.

The initiative, championed by North Pole Rep. Tammie Wilson, failed with 5,825 no votes to 5,470 yes votes when about 1,500 absentee and questioned ballots were counted Tuesday. The vote was 51.57 percent against the measure and 48.43 percent in favor of it...

Dermot Cole

Incumbent Gov. Sean Parnell and independent challenger Bill Walker tangled over energy, budget and leadership issues Tuesday at a debate sponsored by the Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce.

Regarding the state budget, both men said cuts are needed but offered few specifics.

Walker said the state is running a $7 million daily deficit and needs to trim spending. He criticized Parnell for not making cuts.

“We need to look across the board, not just in one particular area,” he said.

Parnell said the deficit would have been $150 million bigger had Walker had his way. He said the SB 21 tax cut on the oil companies amounted to a tax increase at the lower oil prices the state is now seeing...

Dermot Cole

In the past month gasoline prices in Seattle have dropped by more than 30 cents per gallon, with many stations now selling regular gas for about $3.15 a gallon, mainly due to steep declines in world oil prices and competitive pressure.

But in Anchorage, the recent slide in world oil prices has been less obvious at the pump -- a pattern that has long been familiar to Alaskans.

World oil prices have now declined about 25 percent since June, a trend that could push the state deficit in excess of $2 billion if it continues. A split in strategy among OPEC nations and increasing domestic production in the U.S. are among the key factors pushing supply up and prices down.

For Alaska consumers, the recent falling oil prices have had a far less dramatic effect...

Dermot Cole

To hear Dan Sullivan tell it, Sen. Mark Begich cast “the deciding vote” in favor of Obamacare.

That is, unless you believe the TV ads in Arkansas, where “Mark Pryor cast the deciding vote to make you live under Obamacare.”

Or Louisiana, where “Mary Landrieu cast the deciding vote for Obamacare.”

Or New Hampshire, where “things got much worse after Sen. Shaheen cast the deciding vote for Obamacare.”

Or Montana, West Virginia, North Carolina, Minnesota, Colorado, Ohio, Florida, etc., etc., all states with senators who cast “the deciding vote.”

According to the Republican Party, each of the 60 Democrats who voted for the Affordable Care Act in December 2009 qualifies as “the decider.”...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS -- The state of Alaska is continuing its efforts to expedite court proceedings regarding the four Fairbanks men convicted in the 1997 beating death of John Hartman, Attorney General Michael Geraghty said.

Geraghty, responding to a letter from Sen. Mark Begich that accused the state of creating unnecessary delays, said the senator is mistaken. He said state attorneys have met with lawyers for the four men to try to set a schedule for a hearing to move the case forward.

“I can assure you we will continue to press forward to find the truth,” Geraghty said. “Sen. Begich’s inferences to the contrary are unfounded...

Dermot Cole

The Alaska attorney general's office says the downtown Fairbanks steam heat utility has demonstrated that it deserves a 70 percent rate increase from what it was charging a year ago, largely because rates haven't changed in decades.

In a filing with the Regulatory Commission of Alaska , the Regulatory Affairs and Public Advocacy section said Aurora Energy should be granted a permanent rate increase of 70.42 percent, instead of the 78.81 percent sought by the company...

Dermot Cole

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