Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS — Gov. Bill Walker faces a Saturday deadline to act on his pledge to veto a gas line bill hurriedly approved by the Alaska Legislature to allow for an override vote before the session ends, a divide that stems from a deep disagreement about how best to deal with the three largest oil companies in Alaska.

At its center, the fight is about conflicting philosophies as the state and the oil companies embark on the latest in a long line of proposed pipelines. The ruling Republican majorities envision the state and the oil companies marching forward — more or less in unison — on a shared pipeline vision, capable of working out any disagreements that might derail the gas pipeline partnership...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS—After seven years as University of Alaska Fairbanks chancellor, Brian Rogers on Thursday said he will retire in August, leaving a vacancy at the Fairbanks campus as the institution copes with repeated budget cuts.

A former state legislator and private business leader, Rogers served eight years on the University of Alaska Board of Regents and also helped lead the institution as finance vice president for seven years, becoming one of the prominent public policy leaders in the state. He said health reasons are one factor that led to this decision...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS -- While more than 90 percent of its programs will remain intact, the University of Alaska Fairbanks will eliminate or suspend numerous low-enrollment academic programs to cut expenses, according to a memo sent to university staff Wednesday by UAF Provost Susan Henrichs.

In the memo, Henrichs said only about 2 percent of UAF students are enrolled in the targeted programs, which are to be named over the next week. The goal of the academic review was to find about $3 million in cuts from its 190 degree and certificate programs...

Dermot Cole

The state House advanced a plan Wednesday to get natural gas to Fairbanks, though it remains to be seen how the measure will be handled in the Alaska Senate and whether a $45 million past appropriation will be retained by the project.

House Bill 105 won approval on a 37-2 vote, a tally that doesn't reflect the degree of controversy triggered by the measure, which started as a plan to broaden the natural gas source for Fairbanks so it would not be limited to the North Slope.

The bill allows the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority to pursue an energy project using financial tools first approved by lawmakers in 2013...

Dermot Cole

With no votes to spare, the state House overturned a law that had called for a 2.5 percent raise for a couple of thousand nonunion state employees.

The 21-19 vote Wednesday afternoon rejecting a raise for nonunion workers followed a debate in which those favoring the measure said it was a choice of losing a cost-of-living adjustment for the many or having 90 people lose their jobs. Opponents of the plan said there were many options, not just those two.

At first, the measure failed on a 20-20 vote, but Palmer Republican Rep. Jim Colver changed his vote, tipping the balance...

Dermot Cole

As it studied plans to restart its Kenai fertilizer plant in 2013, Agrium asked the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority, which invests and provides financial incentives to Alaska businesses, for help with financing.

“AIDEA is one mechanism that may help support the project via repayable loans,” a spokesman for the Calgary-based company, one of the largest fertilizer distributors in the world, said in early 2014...

Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS -- Ending speculation that a move might be in the offing, the U.S. Air Force said Tuesday it will keep a squadron of F-16 fighters at Alaska’s Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks.

The Alaska congressional delegation praised the decision, with Rep. Don Young calling it “an example of logic prevailing, which is becoming exceptionally rare in the federal government.” Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan said the actions of Russia, North Korea and other nations and the pending move of the F-35 squadrons to Eielson all tend to reinforce the need for this decision about the 18th Aggressor Squadron...

Dermot Cole

The House Finance Committee reversed course Monday on a natural gas project for Fairbanks, reworking amendments by Anchorage Rep. Mike Hawker that had drawn heavy fire from Fairbanks officials and the administration of Alaska Gov. Bill Walker ...

Dermot Cole

A key committee of the Alaska House of Representatives advanced plans to scuttle a 2.5 percent cost-of-living increase for non-union state employees Monday, paralleling a bid to do the same for about 15,600 unionized state and University of Alaska employees.

The House Finance Committee endorsed the one-line bill, House Bill 176, on a 6-4 vote, setting the stage for a vote by the full House. The measure would repeal a 2013 law that gives non-union state workers a 2.5 percent cost of living increase July 1, after getting a 1 percent increase in both 2013 and 2014...

Dermot Cole

While the Aleutians East Borough tries again to sell a mothballed hovercraft, a court fight continues over whether a one-lane road through about 10 miles of the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge or a boat trip is the best way to connect the remote towns of King Cove and Cold Bay, 600 miles southwest of Anchorage...

Dermot Cole

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