AJC Web

FISH FACTOR: Private hatchery, personal use fish bills pre-filed for session

A fish bill that has already been prefiled would let Alaskans take fisheries enhancement efforts into their own hands. House Bill 220 by Rep. David Talerico, R-Healy, would allow “fisheries enhancement permits” as a “tool to support Fish and Game.”

The permits would allow people to take eggs, grow them into smolt and release them wherever they want into the wild. The permit also would allow groups or individuals to “enhance habitat and augment nutrients” in state waterways to support fish,” according to the bill language.

More quakes rattle Oklahoma but state avoids tough measures

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — In Oklahoma, now the country’s earthquake capital, people are talking nervously about the big one as man-made quakes get stronger, more frequent and closer to major population centers. Next door in Kansas, they’re feeling on firmer ground though no one is ready yet to declare victory.

Movers & Shakers 01/24/16

Alaska USA Mortgage Company Senior Mortgage Loan Originator Catherine Donaldson has been recognized as Affiliate of the Year by the Greater Fairbanks Board of Realtors. The board annually recognizes one affiliate member who has provided outstanding contributions to the board and the Fairbanks real estate community. Donaldson has been a resident of Fairbanks since 1983.

As oil falls, US consumer prices down 0.1 percent in December

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. consumer prices fell in December and rose by the smallest amount in seven years in 2015, reflecting the toll of slumping energy costs.

Consumer prices slipped 0.1 percent last month after a flat reading in November, the Labor Department reported Jan. 20.

For the entire year, overall inflation was up just 0.7 percent, even smaller than a 0.8 percent rise in 2014. Both years were heavily influenced by plunging energy prices. It was the weakest annual increase since a 0.1 percent rise in 2008.

BP to cut Alaska workforce by 13%

BP is cutting 4,000 jobs worldwide and some of those reductions will be in Alaska.

An intra-company email obtained by the Journal sent to BP Alaska employees Jan. 12 states that the company plans to reduce its total in state workforce by 13 percent.

All employees should know their status by early spring and the majority of layoffs will be conducted by mid-year, according to the email.

Real estate market forecast sees softening in Anchorage

Anchorage’s commercial and residential real estate market looks to be relatively stable this year, although some softening is expected.

Local realtors and brokers gave their best estimates for different segments of the Anchorage bowl real estate market at the annual Building Owners and Manager’s Association forecast luncheon Dec. 8.

Oil keeps falling, and falling — How low can it go?

DALLAS (AP) — The price of oil keeps falling. And falling. And falling. It has to stop somewhere, right?

Even after trending down for a year and a half, U.S. crude has fallen another 17 percent since the start of the year and is now probing depths not seen since 2003.

“All you can do is forecast direction, and the direction of price is still down,” says Larry Goldstein of the Energy Policy Research Foundation, who predicted a decline in oil in 2014.

IG finds no bias in EPA Bristol Bay assessment

The Bristol Bay Watershed Assessment is on the up-and-up, at least according to the Environmental Protection Agency Office of Inspector General.

Based on “obtainable records,” an Inspector General report issued Jan. 13 found no bias in how the EPA conducted its lengthy assessment of the potential impacts of mining within Bristol Bay watershed.

Judge hits both sides in Anchorage LIO suit

A lawsuit challenging the legality of the Anchorage Legislative Information Office lease will continue, but neither side came out of a court ruling unscathed.

Anchorage District Superior Court Judge Patrick McKay wrote in a Jan. 7 order denying a defendants’ motion for summary judgment that the filer of the suit, Anchorage attorney James Gottstein, waited an unreasonably long time to file the suit.

At the same time, McKay found that the Anchorage LIO owners could in a roundabout way benefit from the building lease being voided.

Smaller budget means ADFG can’t fix faulty Susitna counts

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game cannot undo a set of Cook Inlet driftnet restrictions in place over the last 25 years.

Cook Inlet driftnetters say restrictions unjustly keep them from millions of dollars of sockeye harvest based on faulty data. Protective measures for Susitna sockeye, a designated stock of concern, keep drifters in specific corridors in Cook Inlet from July 9 to 31. Fishermen say the decades have added up to thousands of available sockeye — and millions of dollars — they didn’t need to forgo.

EDITORIAL: Bundys, and the feds, need to be reined in

As the FBI seeks to end the citizen takeover of Oregon’s Malheur National Wildlife Refuge, it’s worth reflecting on what is behind the rising civil disobedience in the American West. The armed occupation of federal buildings is inexcusable, but so are federal land-management abuses and prosecutorial overreach.

FISH FACTOR: Mariculture industry hits milestone as sales top $1M

Alaska’s mariculture industry has passed some big milestones, and is getting set to head into the weeds.

Aquatic farming, which was ok’d by Alaska lawmakers in 1988, topped $1 million in shellfish sales for the first time ever in 2014, coming in at $1.2 million.

“This is the highest sales we’ve had since the inception of the program which is pretty exciting,” said Cynthia Pring-Ham, Director of Mariculture for the state Department of Fish and Game, adding that shellfish production increased 27 percent.

Movers & Shakers 1/17/16

Long-time Alaska businessman Tom Tougas joined First National Bank Alaska’s board of directors. Tougas’ rich history with the state’s tourism industry started in the 1970s as a tour bus driver while studying in college. Today, he owns Seward-based businesses Major Marine Tours and the 90-room Harbor 360 Hotel, and has helped manage numerous other companies throughout the years. Joining Tougas on the board are Lawer, Vice Chair Lucy Mahan, Adm. Tom Barrett, USCG (ret.) Dr. Maurice Coyle, Perry Eaton, Margy Johnson, Jane Klopfer, Loren H. Lounsbury and Fran Ulmer.

Supreme Court rules setnet ban unconstitutional

The Alaska Supreme Court overturned a lower court ruling on Dec. 31, declaring a ballot initiative to ban setnets in certain areas of the state unconstitutional.

Calling the initiative a “give-away program” that was designed to appeal to the self-interests of non-commercial fishermen, the court issued an opinion that put an end to a lengthy legal process that began in late 2013.

ADFG insists studies were used despite going unpublished

Use it, then lose it, was the fate of a long-delayed Kenai River habitat study until the Alaska Department of Fish and Game finally published it last fall.

A 14-year publication delay on a Kenai River habitat study has made ripples through ADFG and the Cook Inlet fishing sphere as officials have acknowledged that taking so long to finalize the report was a mistake but insist they still used the report’s recommendations in management plans.

MEA says economics of single transmission co. overstated

Matanuska Electric Association is questioning the benefits of transferring regional transmission infrastructure to a single utility.

In a Dec. 29 letter to the Regulatory Commission of Alaska chair T.W. Patch, MEA General Manager Joe Griffith cited eight reasons why the Southcentral electric utility believes forming a Railbelt electric transmission company could be unnecessary and possibly add costs to participating utility ratepayers.

Walker announces hiring freeze as S&P downgrades Alaska

Standard & Poor’s officially downgraded the State of Alaska’s credit ratings Jan. 5, citing bottom-of-the-barrel oil prices that continue to balloon the state’s budget deficit.

The downgrades drop the state’s general obligation debt rating from AAA to AA+; state appropriation-backed debt from AA+ to AA; and the rating on some moral obligation-backed bonds from the Alaska Energy Authority from AA to A+.

S&P also attached a negative outlook to each rating.

After flooding, work continues to re-bury TAPS

Flooding of the Dalton Highway last spring caught a lot of attention, mainly because the vital road link to the North Slope oil fields was cut off for days. Hundreds of trucks delivering supplies and equipment were backed up and delayed.

What got very little, if any, attention was that washed-out areas nearby exposed buried parts of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System to the open air and moving water.

Support for using investment earnings, taxes after cuts

The idea of using a potion of Permanent Fund earnings to narrow the huge state budget gap is gaining traction in the Legislature. Two Senate leaders, Senate President Kevin Meyer, R-Anchorage, and Resources Committee Chair Sen. Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, say some way of using investment earnings has to be part of the equation, although both say additional spending cuts should come first.

AJOC EDITORIAL: Time for Penney to drop vendetta against setnetters

Bob Penney is now 0 for 2 at the Alaska Supreme Court in his efforts to reallocate Cook Inlet salmon stocks at the ballot box, but he’s not giving up the fight against commercial fishermen.

It’s past time that he did after some three decades of dividing the community with his nonstop efforts to drive his neighbors out of business and turn the Kenai River into his personal playpen.

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - AJC Web