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Dermot Cole

FAIRBANKS -- The winter blast that buried Buffalo this week left residents reaching for shovels and reporters searching out snowfall records.

Parts of Buffalo received 6 to 7 feet over a couple of days, leaving the one-day record intact, the news reports said. They reported the record as 75.8 inches , which piled up during 24 hours in April 1921 in Silver Lake, Colorado.

But what the stories didn’t say is that the one-day record snowfall in Alaska exceeds the Colorado level by 2 inches, which raises a question about whether the Alaska total from a 1963 snowstorm deserves top billing in the weather annals...

Dermot Cole

A sharply critical legislative audit questions whether a backlog of 55 oil and gas tax and credit audits can be completed before the six-year Alaska statute of limitations runs out, potentially putting hundreds of millions in back taxes at risk.

The backlog of audits includes tax returns submitted annually by the big oil companies from 2008 to 2013 under the former tax system known as Alaska's Clear and Equitable Share.

The first ACES audits covered 2007, and while the state completed them within the six-year deadline, “four of five 2007 tax return audits were completed just days before the deadline," the report said...

Dermot Cole

Legislators plan to meet the day after Thanksgiving for a final update from the Parnell administration on the proposed natural gas pipeline. But they won't be allowed to attend unless they sign a secrecy pledge.

While some lawmakers will decline to take the pledge, the Legislature arrived at this point because of a 69-page Parnell administration bill it approved overwhelmingly last spring that stresses secrecy on key details about the proposed Alaska Liquefied Natural Gas project. The title of the bill alone runs to 480 words...

Dermot Cole

The Air Force told Alaska's congressional delegation Wednesday it has launched a review that may end with a decision to keep a squadron of F-16s at Eielson Air Force Base or move them to Anchorage or to Nevada.

The move follows an announcement by the Air Force in August that Eielson will be the future home for 48 F-35 jets, a fighter aircraft that remains under development for the Pentagon. As part of that decision, the Air Force called for a review of future options for the 18 F-16s now at Eielson...

Dermot Cole

Close to one-fifth of the marriage licenses issued in Alaska over the last month have gone to same-sex couples, according to the state office of vital statistics.

Alaska, one of 32 states where gay marriage has been legalized, has issued an estimated 74 marriage licenses to same-sex couples following court approval in mid-October. There have been a total of about 400 marriage licenses issued since the federal court action overturned the constitutional ban...

Dermot Cole

As the 2014 election nears an end—with Bill Walker and Byron Mallott about to become the next governor and lieutenant governor—Alaskans look back on a campaign filled with unexpected ups and downs.

The biggest was the merger of the Walker and Mallott campaigns on Labor Day weekend, a combination that created a powerful coalition in the nine weeks that followed. You may not have heard of the second biggest — it took place on a summer night in Minto in June...

Dermot Cole

The Fairbanks area will miss a federal deadline by four years and need until 2019 to clean up its polluted air, according to a proposed state air quality plan released Monday, a day on which wood smoke in the area of North Pole created "unhealthy" air quality conditions.

The air in the Fairbanks area was classified as "unhealthy for sensitive groups," meaning children, the elderly and those with respiratory or heart disease were advised to restrict their activities.

In both Fairbanks and North Pole, elevated levels of small particles have been a consistent winter problem on calm days -- exacerbated by the thousands of people who have taken to burning wood in response to high heating oil prices...

Dermot Cole

A state agency is selling its interest in a Cook Inlet drilling rig for $25.7 million, with its partners from Singapore now planning to take it to South Africa before the end of the month, the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority says.

AIDEA had invested $23.6 million in a company that owns the Endeavour drill rig, which became tied up in the bankruptcy of Buccaneer Energy, which had chartered the $120 million rig for Cook Inlet oil and gas exploration...

Dermot Cole

A Fairbanks judge has ordered Alaska Communications to provide updated phone information to the Fairbanks North Star Borough for thousands of people in the Fairbanks area to improve 911 service, arguing that refusing to do so creates an "unacceptable danger" to public safety.

Fairbanks Superior Court Judge Bethany Harbison granted a preliminary injunction sought by the borough to get the information from the phone company. Her order, issued Thursday, said that "effective immediately," Alaska Communications -- better known to many Alaskans as ACS -- should provide subscriber list information to a borough computer site at least daily, following national standards...

Dermot Cole

The U.S. Senate campaigns and outside groups that buried Alaska under an avalanche of advertising, annoying phone calls and assorted other forms of political persuasion spent roughly $225 for everyone who cast a ballot.

While final finance and voting tallies have yet to be compiled, Dan Sullivan holds a commanding lead over Sen. Mark Begich in the most expensive race in Alaska history...

Dermot Cole

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