Movers and Shakers for Jan. 20

The Anchorage Economic Development Corp. announced Lynn Rust Henderson, who is vice president of sales and service for Premera Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alaska, is now chair of AEDC’s board of directors. Joining her on the board’s executive team are BP Alaska Head of Control David Knapp as vice chair; Northrim Bank Executive Vice President and Chief Lending Officer Michael Huston as secretary and treasurer; Vice President of Operations for the Hotel Captain Cook Raquel Edelen as as immediate past board chair; and DOWL Vice President of Alaska Operations Steve Noble as at-large executive committee member. Four new Alaska business leaders will join AEDC’s 15-member board of directors. New members include: Furniture Enterprises of Alaska President Dave Cavitt; Bering Straits Native Corp. Senior Vice President and CFO Laura Edmondson; Signature Flight Support General Manager Marty Bettis; and Capital Management Benefits Corp. Director Garret Wong. Ahtna Environmental Inc. hired Matthew White, PE, CIH, whose responsibilities will include directing and managing environmental scientists, chemists, industrial hygienists, and environmental inspectors for the goal of applying OSHA, EPA, and USACE regulations for workplace safety and environmental compliance. White is a Certified Industrial Hygienist with more than 30 years of professional experience. White has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Bob Allen joins Ahtna Engineering Services LLC as a senior environmental engineer. Allen has 30 years of professional experience and has been involved in all phases of contaminated site management including site investigations, feasibility studies, and remedial design. He earned his master’s degree in civil engineering from Colorado State University and his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Montana State University. MTA announced the appointment of Alaska business and real estate veteran Ken Kincaid to its board of directors. Kincaid, a 35-year MTA member, has most recently served on the board for the Mat-Su Health Foundation, where he was brought on to help navigate the complex purchase of an additional ownership stake in the Mat-Su Regional Medical Center. He serves on MSHF’s committees for Governance, Program, CEO Evaluation, and is the chair of its Finance committee. Since joining in 2012, MSHF’s long-term investments, investments from joint ventures, and grants to the community have more than doubled. Kincaid previously worked for 18 years at the Anchorage office of commercial real estate appraisal company Shorett &Riely, which later became Kincaid &Riely after he became the sole proprietor. Kincaid has also served on the Alaska Board of Real Estate Appraisers, the Mat-Su Borough Board of Equalization and numerous church and school leadership boards. Mark Corsentino was appointmented as the new general manager of the Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility. Corsentino will replace Brett Jokela, who is retiring after serving as AWWU’s GM for six years. Corsentino has worked for AWWU since 2007. He served as project management engineer and supervisor from 2007-16, and as director of Operations and Maintenance since 2016. In his most recent position, Corsentino led and managed 95 employees, served as a member of AWWU’s leadership team, and was instrumental in the development and execution of the utility’s strategic plan. Corsentino holds a master’s degree in civil engineering and a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering from Marquette University. He has more than 18 years of professional experience in the industry. He begins full-time as GM of AWWU in early February. The Alaska Chamber announced the hiring of Albert Fogle as vice president, where he will focus on advocacy, legislative issues, as well as operations and financial management. Before joining the chamber, Fogle worked for RISQ Consulting as an employee benefits and business consultant. He is a licensed life and health insurance producer and past president of the Alaska Association of Health Underwriters. Prior to RISQ, Albert served in the U.S. Army as an Infantry Team Leader and Communications Operator where he supervised deployment logistics valued in excess of $2 million under security access controls. His years of military service include a tour in Iraq. Fogle has a bachelor’s of business administration degree in finance, with a minor in criminal justice from the University of Alaska Anchorage. Fogle replaces Ben Mulligan, who recently left the Chamber to serve as the deputy commissioner for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Long-time Alaska fisheries analyst Rachel S. Baker will join the Alaska Department of Fish and Game as deputy commissioner beginning Feb. 1. Also joining the department is Rachel Hanke who started work as legislative liaison earlier this month. Baker brings 15 years of experience as an analyst and policy advisor in state and federal fisheries management to her role at the department. She began her fisheries career in 2003 as an economist with ADFG. She joined the National Marine Fisheries Service in 2008 where she most recently worked as Supervisory Fishery Management Specialist in Silver Spring, Md. She will be based in Juneau. As deputy commissioner she will represent the state’s interests in federal fisheries management issues, including representing the department with the North Pacific Fishery Management Council on behalf of the commissioner. She will also coordinate state and federal fisheries policies and management programs to benefit the state and Alaska’s coastal communities. Hanke started at the department on Jan. 7. She worked in the Legislature for five years prior to joining the ADFG. Her background includes stints as staff to Sen. Peter Micciche and Rep. Kurt Olson. The RSA board of directors has elected Roger Weese as the new president. Channing Lillo has been promoted to vice president and principal electrical engineer. Mark Frischkorn will remain as vice president and principal mechanical engineer, and will continue to lead the Mechanical Department. Tim Hall, who has served as president for the past four years, will remain a principal electrical engineer and will continue to work on a part-time basis.

FISH FACTOR: Studies link fewer premature births to fishy omega-3s

Eating seafood can save lives. Premature birth is the leading cause of death for children younger than 5 years old worldwide, accounting for nearly one million deaths annually. Now there is proof that eating seafood or marine oils can significantly reduce that number. The lifesaving ingredient? Omega-3 fatty acids. The conclusion of a new Cochrane Review of 70 studies worldwide on nearly 20,000 pregnant women stated that omegas from marine sources reduce early premature birth by a whopping 42 percent. “The effect really has to be strong to see it in a Cochrane Review and I am very impressed that it has come out as significant as it has,” said Dr. Tom Brenna, a professor of pediatrics, chemistry and nutrition at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas. Research on marine omega-3s and pregnancy has been going on since at least 1992, Brenna said, who called the formal medical global collaboration and conclusions in the Cochran Review a “blunt instrument.” “The number of studies and the number of women studied is large enough so that it is very difficult to imagine that future studies are going to affect these results. We really are looking at something that may well be the final word,” he said. The results also included a 10 percent reduction in low birth weight babies of less than 5.5 pounds. Premature babies are at higher risk of a range of long-term conditions including developmental delay, learning difficulties and visual impairment. Brenna said marine-based omega-3 fatty acids also improve those problems. “Many of us believe that omega-3s are important for continuing development of the neural system and of the eye,” he said. “The brain and the retina in the eye are really omega-3 organs. You can say that as calcium is to the bones, omega-3 is to the brain.” A challenge now, Brenna said, is to translate the marine omega 3 findings on premature birth prevention and other positives into health policy and wider educational outreach. “I think that we have a major effect here that ought to be heralded from the rooftops far and wide,” he said. Fish smell snuffed Fish scientists proved years ago that the tiniest traces of copper in water can affect a salmon’s sense of smell. New research shows that increasing levels of acidity in the oceans does the same thing. Fish use their sense of smell to find food, avoid predators, find spawning areas, even to recognize one another. Losing it could threaten their very survival. “In the environment that has some serious implications,” said Jason Sandahl, whose research team at Oregon State University was one of the first to show how contaminants can disrupt the chemical balance of sea creatures, and that copper levels at just two parts per billion impaired small coho salmons’ sense of smell. “If there are predators around and the fish are not able to response to these danger signals in the water, they would likely be the next snack for these larger predators in the water,” he added. Oceans that are becoming more acidic have the same effect. Research at the University of Washington and NOAA’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center is the first to show that high levels of carbon dioxide impair the sense of smell in salmon. “We did this study because over the past 10 years there’s been a lot of research coming out of Australia on tropical reef fish and other places in the world looking at the effects of elevated CO2 in fish behavior,” researcher Chase Williams told KBBI in Homer. Williams and his colleagues exposed young coho salmon in tanks for two weeks to different acidity levels from today and predicted at 50 and 100 years out. Ground up fish scales were added to indicate a predator attack, which usually prompts the salmon to hide or swim away. The juvenile cohos exposed to the higher acidity levels did not appear to even detect the smell. The UW team also looked into where in the sensory-neural system the ability to smell erodes, and how it changes fish behavior. “We found that the salmon are still likely still smelling the odors, so there are no changes in the way their nose is detecting them,” Williams said. “But we did pick up changes in the way that their brain was potentially processing those odor signals. So that’s what is likely driving the behavioral changes.” The researchers said they hope their findings on such an iconic fish as Pacific salmon will alert more people to the consequences of carbon emissions being absorbed by our oceans. Fish watch Lots of winter fishing is going on and gearing up across Alaska. Boats have been out in the Gulf and Bering Sea since Jan. 1 targeting cod. Openers for pollock, flounders and various other whitefish kick off on Jan. 20. The snow crab fishery gets going in earnest around this time of year in the Bering Sea. In Southeast Alaska, mostly small boats using jig or hand troll gear are targeting black rockfish and lingcod. Divers are still tapping away on the last bits of Southeast’s 1.7 million-pound sea cucumber quota in just one open region. Divers also are still going down for more than 700,000 pounds of giant geoduck clams. The winter king salmon season for Southeast trollers opened on Oct. 1 and it’s been slow going. Fewer than 6,000 kings have been taken since the fishery opened; the five-year average is closer to 16,000 fish. Based on new treaty agreements with Canada, Southeast’s winter troll catch rate will determine the takes for commercial and sport users this year and that will likely mean more cutbacks. The state also has announced a full closure for king salmon in the Northern Cook Inlet region and Susitna River due to extremely poor returns. Boats at Kodiak, Chignik and the South Alaska Peninsula are fishing for rockfish and a half million pound Tanner crab fishery opened at Kodiak on Jan. 15. Turning to fish meetings, the state Board of Fisheries will meet from Jan. 15-19 in Anchorage to take up more than 60 proposals for Arctic/Yukon/Kuskokwim fish issues. Stakeholders will learn later this month how much halibut will be available for this year’s fishery that begins in March. The International Pacific Halibut Commission will announce the catch numbers and other management updates when it meets Jan. 28 through Feb. 1 in Victoria, British Columbia. Fish and ships While the Trump Administration and some of the nation’s biggest food producers push for industrialized fish farms off the coasts of the U.S., others are taking the technology inside. A German engineering company called Next Generation Cargo is planning to farm Atlantic salmon aboard the world’s largest sailboats by the year 2023. Each of five 540-foot sailboats will be able to produce 5.5 million pounds of salmon per year. Undercurrent News reports that the first vessel — called the Quadriga — is already being built at a Chinese shipyard. The big ship will receive fingerlings from European salmon hatcheries and raise them to harvest size in sea cages contained within the vessel. Because the vessels will sail in international waters, they do not require a license to farm. The Quadriga will operate on solar and wind power and will choose routes which best cater to fish growing. Next Generation also claims the vessels will use controlled feeding and incur “no feed losses” into the ocean. A promotional video describes the Quadriga as a “first in the Ecoliner class,” and says it will include luxury passenger cabins on board. A Norwegian company called Pure Atlantic AS is planning an even bigger fish growing ship measuring 1,600 feet in length. Fish Farming Expert reports it will be powered by wind turbines mounted on the back of the vessel and water will flow through the ship into built-in channels in the fish cages. Both the German and Norwegian companies hope their designs will revolutionize freight and shipping as well as aquaculture. Laine Welch lives in Kodiak. Visit www.alaskafishradio.com or contact [email protected] for information.

Movers and Shakers for Jan. 13

Alaska USA Federal Credit Union announced four executive level positions within the organization. Wayne Bailey has been selected to fill the new position of executive vice president and chief experience officer. Bailey has more than 25 years of experience with Alaska USA in positions of increasing responsibility, most recently as chief lending officer. He holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Colorado Boulder. Scott Hansen has been selected for the position of chief lending officer. Hansen has more than 40 years of consumer lending and collection experience, and has been with Alaska USA for more than 13 years, most recently as executive director, Consumer Lending. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Utah. Jessica Graham has been promoted to fill the position of chief risk officer, general counsel. Graham has more than 15 years of in-house corporate law experience, most recently as senior vice president, general counsel. Graham also clerked for the Chief Justice of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, holds a degree in law from the Law School of Duke University, and has served on the board of the Alaska Bar Association. Maria Quick has been selected for the position of senior vice president, Accounting and Treasury. Quick has more than 13 years of industry experience, and most recently held the position of manager, Finance and Accounting. Quick is a licensed CPA with a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Northwest Nazerene University. Legislative advocacy veteran Thor Stacey was named director of National Federation of Independent Businesses Alaska. For the past six years, Thor Stacey has been the director of government affairs for the Alaska Professional Hunters Association and has also led legislative initiatives for Trident Seafoods, Alaska Air Carriers Association, Alaska Wild Sheep Foundation, and IPOP Mining. A lifelong Alaskan, Stacey served in the United States Marine Corps under Col. and Alaska U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan. A graduate of AJ Diamond High School in Anchorage, he later attended the University of Alaska Southeast to study political science and government, Stacey also studied in the aviation maintenance program of the University of Alaska Anchorage. Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska announced the promotion of Helene Bennett to Tribal Operations and Self Governance manager. Bennett previously served as the executive assistant to Tlingit and Haida’s Chief Operating Officer Ken Truitt. In her new role, Bennett will provide administrative support to and oversight of the Tribe’s Bureau of Indian Affairs Self Governance programs, provide support to compact communities in compliance with applicable regulations and fiscal policies, and oversee the day to day administrative functions of the Tribal Operations department. Bennett will also manage all facets of Tribal Assembly in collaboration with the Office of the President. She joined Tlingit and Haida’s workforce full-time in 2010 with the Head Start department, she later transitioned to the Native Lands and Resources Department before accepting a position in Tribal Operations in 2014. Prior to this, Bennett worked for the City and Borough of Juneau’s Parks &Recreation Department and the Juneau Police Department. Perkins Coie announced that Sarah Gillstrom of its Anchorage office has been promoted to partner. Gillstrom is a member of Perkins Coie’s Litigation practice. Gillstrom’s practice focuses on construction law and commercial litigation in both federal and state courts. In addition to representing clients in breach-of-contract litigation, she has experience assisting clients — including owners, contractors, and design professionals — in construction disputes. Gillstrom also drafts and negotiates construction agreements, and represents clients in real estate transactions and litigation.

Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority approves land exchange

JUNEAU (AP) — A state agency plans to swap land in southeast Alaska for federal land that can be developed for timber sales. The Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority board on Jan. 3 approved a land exchange with the U.S. Forest Service that will trade 18,000 acres of trust lands for 20,000 acres of federal land, the Juneau Empire reported . The trust lands are scattered throughout southeast Alaska and the exact amount to be traded must be worked out. Wyn Menefee, director of the Trust Authority Land Office, said the land exchange will be the biggest in the trust’s history. The trust was created to provide leadership in services for trust beneficiaries, including Alaskans with mental illness, developmental disabilities, chronic alcoholism and traumatic brain injuries. The trust is endowed with about 1 million acres of land. The trust hopes to earn money off its newly acquired lands with timber harvesting. The acreage could yield $40 million to $60 million over the next 20 years, according to the trust. Lands received by the U.S. Forest Service will be protected under terms of the trade, Menefee said. The overall aim is to protect “viewsheds” while logging less-sensitive lands to earn money for the trust. The trust will give up nearly 2,700 acres of land on Douglas Island that includes the Mount Bradley Trail, known locally as the Mount Jumbo Trail. The Forest Service as part of the deal will not allow logging on lands it’s receiving, Menefee said. “The Forest Service won’t be doing any timber cuts on it,” Menefee said. “It will most likely be managed for recreation.” Forest Service representatives could not be reached for comment because of the partial federal government shutdown. The amount of land received by the trust will depend on appraisals. Appraisers have not completed their work. It’s also not clear whether all the land the trust gains will be used for timber, Menefee said. If there are more lucrative uses, trust officials will consider them. “Timber harvest is one of the primary ways that the trust can monetize its assets but other potential revenue generation options will always be considered,” Menefee said by email. An initial land exchange is planned for January. A second phase, including the parcel on Douglas Island, is planned for 2020. The board’s approval was one of the last steps in a process that has taken more than a decade. The exchange required both state and federal legislation. President Donald Trump signed a federal bill into law in May 2017. Former Gov. Bill Walker signed Senate Bill 88 into law in October 2017. Both bills authorized the exchange. The federal bill states that the primary goals of the exchange are to preserve the natural beauty of Southeast while creating jobs and serving the goals of the trust. Menefee said the deal is a “win-win” for the trust and the Forest Service.

Italian major secures full ownership of North Slope field

Italian oil major Eni has reached a deal with Caelus Energy to buy the small independent out of the Oooguruk North Slope field. Eni announced Jan. 3 that it will acquire Caelus’ 70 percent in Oooguruk and take over as operator of the near shore oil development. The deal, for undisclosed terms, will make Eni the sole owner of Oooguruk as the company already holds a 30 percent stake in the field, according to a Jan. 3 release. Oooguruk sits in state waters about 2 miles off the North Slope. Oil production started in 2008 from a manmade island and the small field currently produces about 10,000 barrels per day from 25 production wells, according to Eni. The field also contains 15 gas-water injection wells. A statement from Eni says the company — which also owns 100 percent of the Nikaitchuq field, another small, near shore oil development — will work to synergize operations at the fields. Nikaitchuq’s Spy Island drill site is about eight miles northeast of Oooguruk. Eni plans to drill additional wells at each field to increase oil production by several thousand barrels per day. In late 2017 the company began drilling ultra-long reach angled exploration wells roughly 35,000 feet long from Spy Island to reach targets in its federal leases further offshore. Last August Eni also bought the rights to 124 onshore state leases from Caelus covering about 350,000 acres of exploration acreage on the eastern North Slope. Caelus Energy bought Oooguruk and other Alaska assets for $550 million in cash from Pioneer Natural Resources in a deal announced in late 2013. At the time, Caelus CEO Jim Mussleman said he planned to invest about $1.5 billion in Alaska over the next five to six years. Mussleman and other Caelus officials have said the company came to Alaska in large measure due to the state’s revised oil production tax structure known as SB 21 and the generous but now defunct refundable oil and gas tax credit incentives the state offered to small explorers and producers for working in Alaska. Caelus made national headlines in October 2016 when company leaders announced they had discovered upwards of 6 billion barrels of oil at the remote Smith Bay prospect in shallow, state-owned waters about 125 miles northwest of other Slope oil developments on the edge of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska. However, the company has not done any significant work at Smith Bay since. Caelus has also postponed further development of its onshore Nuna oil project near Oooguruk estimated at $1.2 billion, which currently consists of a 22-acre gravel pad. Company leaders have blamed more than $100 million in unpaid state tax credits for hampering Caelus’ ability to further development of its Slope prospects. The company was granted reduced state oil royalty payments at Nuna in January 2015 in exchange for prompt development of the project but the Division of Oil and Gas denied an extension of those terms in April 2016. Caelus Alaska Vice President Pat Foley said in a brief interview that the company has been actively marketing Nuna to potential investors or buyers for a couple years. “We think those (marketing activities) are going to be coming to an end fairly soon,” Foley said. He also said at this point there are no plans for more work to appraise the Smith Bay prospect. “We continue to try to secure funding,” Foley said of Smith Bay. “We’re hopeful that we can conduct more activities but nothing is yet firm.” ^ Elwood Brehmer can be reached at [email protected]

Movers and Shakers for Jan. 6

John Novak was appointed as the Anchorage District Attorney. Novak has worked in the Criminal Division of the Department of Law since 1990 and has worked on everything from homicide cases, to handling federal prosecutions as a Special Assistant to the United States Attorney, to advising the Department of Public Safety. Novak’s career has taken him all across the State to prosecute crimes, including Anchorage, Kenai, Palmer, Seward, Bethel, Dillingham, Naknak, and Unalaska. He has also supervised both the drug and violent crimes units during his tenure and pitched in as Acting District Attorney for the Palmer District Attorney’s office. Novak replaces Richard Allen, who has taken a job with the Palmer District Attorney’s office. Col. Torrence Saxe was appointed to serve as the new commissioner of the Alaska Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and to serve as the adjutant general for the Alaska National Guard. As commissioner and adjutant general, Saxe will be responsible for nearly 4,400 personnel in four state divisions, and the National Guard, which is organized within the DMVA. DMVA’s divisions include Homeland Security and Emergency Management, Veterans Affairs, Alaska Military Youth Academy, Air and Army National Guard, Naval Militia, State Defense Force and Administrative Services. Saxe most recently served as commander of the Alaska Air National Guard, presiding over 2,300 Air Guardsmen in the Joint Forces Headquarters Air staff and two wings, located at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage and Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks. LifeMed Alaska, an Alaska-based ground and air ambulance service with base locations in Anchorage, Bethel, Dutch Harbor, Fairbanks, Juneau, Palmer and Soldotna, announced that Russell L. Edwards has joined the company as CEO. As a former Army MEDEVAC pilot and Alaska Air National Guard rescue helicopter pilot with the 210th Rescue Squadron, Edwards has led teams in the safe and effective conduct of flight operations that resulted in safe evacuation of hundreds in Alaska, the Lower 48, and during multiple overseas deployments. His comprehensive understanding and application of pertinent military and civilian regulations, crew resource management, and team leadership has resulted in multiple awards for rescue operations, including an Air Medal for Heroism for leading a flight of two HH-60s in the rescue of a wounded Special Forces officer in the mountains of Afghanistan. Edwards will retire from the Alaska Air National Guard in the fall of 2019 as a lieutenant colonel.

Movers and Shakers for Dec. 30

Bering Straits Native Corp. announced two promotions within the company’s senior management team. Krystal Nelson was promoted to senior vice president/chief operating officer and Dan Graham was promoted to senior vice president. Nelson joined BSNC in 2014 following a successful 18-year career working in public and private business sectors managing federal, state and municipal contracts. Her experience includes management of multi-million dollar programs and projects, union negotiations and managing more than 1,200 personnel. Graham joined BSNC in 2014 after nearly 20 years managing projects for the public and private sector in construction, remediation and service work. His background includes management and operational responsibility for large multi-million dollar international programs, implementing strategic plans and policies and facilitating corporate marketing and business development. PDC Engineers announced several promotions. Utilities Market Sector lead Karen Brady was promoted to the position of principal engineer. She has been with PDC for 17 years. Angela Smith, lead engineer of PDC’s Aviation group (within the firm’s Transportation Market Sector), has been promoted to the position of senior associate. Smith has 17 years of industry experience and has been with PDC for two of those years. PDC Business Development Director and Planner Pat Cotter was promoted to the position of senior associate. Cotter has been with PDC Engineers for nine years and has served as an associate for the past six years. He leads the firm’s planning group in its Land Development Services Market Sector and has filled the role of Business Development director for the past two years. As a key leader in PDC’s Highway group within its Transportation Market Sector, Anne Nelson has been promoted to the position of associate. Nelson has worked with PDC for 12 years as a civil engineer and has earned her PE while at the firm. Kevin Puustinen, a senior civil engineer in PDC’s Utilities Market Sector, has been promoted to the position of associate. Puustinen has had his professional engineering license since 2010 and has performed and managed civil engineering design and construction assignments throughout Southeast Alaska. He also serves on PDC’s Operations committee. Randy Williams has been promoted to the position of associate. Williams joined PDC in 2015 as a senior mechanical engineer and commissioning agent and has been the lead mechanical engineer on several projects and the project manager for other multi-discipline work.

Draft EIS released for ANWR lease sale

Alaskans got their first look at what oil development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge might look like exactly one year to the day after Congress ordered the Trump administration to start leasing portions of its coastal plain. On Dec. 20 the Bureau of Land Management released the draft version of the environmental impact statement that will inform what areas of the roughly 1.5 million-acre coastal plain are open to oil and gas leasing and what other sideboards that should be put on oil exploration in the area. The ANWR rider to the Tax Cut and Jobs Act passed last December directs the Interior Department to hold two oil and gas lease sales, each covering at least 400,000 acres of the coastal plain before 2025. It limits permanent development to 2,000 acres of federal land. The Alaska Native village corporation Kaktovik Inupiat Corp. also owns about 92,000 acres around the coastal village of Kaktovik within the refuge, land that would also be open to development. The draft EIS offers three leasing scenarios with varying limitations on available acreage and activity timing intended to account for wildlife migrations and local subsistence activities. The 756-page, two-volume document also includes a “no action” alternative — a part of all environmental impact statements — as a baseline to compare other options against but Assistant Interior Secretary Joe Balash noted in a call with reporters the no action option won’t be chosen because the law mandates lease sales be held. Balash stressed that the input of residents from villages that use the refuge played a big role in how the leasing alternatives were formed, including input from Gwich’in Tribe members who rely on the Porcupine caribou herd as a primary food source and strongly oppose the industry activity. The eastern Alaska-western Canada caribou use large swaths of the coastal plain as calving grounds and what impact oil development could have on the herd has been a primary debate point in the battle over ANWR oil exploration. Exactly how long it will take to finalize the coastal plain EIS is unclear; however, Interior leaders expect to hold the first lease sale sometime in 2019. A 45-day public comment period on the draft is scheduled to commence Dec. 28 when the document is published in the Federal Register. The members of Alaska’s congressional delegation and Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy praised BLM’s work in formal statements. Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan said they appreciate the diligence with which the agency built the first draft of the Coastal Plain Oil and Gas Leasing Program EIS. “I am particularly pleased to see the serious and necessary considerations for the Porcupine caribou that migrate through the region, as well as the abundant level of stakeholder input — including from the Alaska Natives in the area, the vast majority of whom support responsible drilling in the 1002 (coastal plain),” Sullivan said. “This draft EIS brings us that much closer to unleashing America’s energy potential, filling up the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, boosting our economy, and providing good jobs for Alaskans, all while protecting the ecosystem in ANWR’s 1002 as we’ve done on the rest of Alaska’s North Slope for over 40 years.” The coastal plain has also been dubbed the “1002 area” for Section 1002 of the 1980 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, which carved out the potential for industry development in the otherwise off-limits 19 million-acre refuge. Dunleavy said the document “is a significant milestone in Alaska’s long journey to responsibly explore and develop the 1002 area in ANWR. The potential oil discovered will spur new jobs and investments for generations to come, extending the life of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline.” The least restrictive to development, Alternative B would open the entire 1.5 million acres to leasing. Industry activity restrictions during the Porcupine herd’s May-June calving season would apply to about 585,000 acres mostly in the eastern portion of the coastal plain. Another 360,000 acres — mostly along the coast and major river corridors — would be leasable but with a “no surface occupancy” stipulation prohibiting construction of permanent facilities there. Activity restrictions along the rivers and coast are a theme in all the leasing scenarios. The remaining 618,000 acres would be open to leasing under the program’s general conditions. The Central Arctic caribou typically migrates into the western half of the coastal plain in July and August but calving takes place mostly on state land just to the west of the refuge, according to the EIS. Alternative C would also open the entirety of the coastal plain for leasing but place the no surface occupancy restriction over more than 930,000 acres including the caribou calving area and major river corridors. Timing limitations on industrial activity would be put on another 317,000 acres and about 314,000 acres would be open with general conditions. Finally, Alternative D would place the most restrictions on development activity in order to protect biological and ecological resources, the EIS states. A little more than 1 million acres would be available for leasing; however, permanent oil and gas facilities would be prohibited over 708,000 acres and another 124,000 acres would have other use restrictions. Sub-options to Alternative D would have the remaining roughly 204,000 acres either be open with general conditions or open with timing limitations. Approximately 530,000 acres of primarily Porcupine herd calving grounds would be off-limits to leasing under Alternative D. Exactly what level of interest industry will have in the coastal plain leases is also unknown. The most recent U.S. Geological Survey assessment of the oil and gas underneath the coastal plain, done in 1998, put the mean oil estimate at 7.6 billion barrels for the coastal plain-1002 area. The USGS additionally estimated there is a 5 percent probability the area holds nearly 12 billion barrels of technically recoverable oil, which says noting of the economics of extracting it. SAExploration Inc. has a 3-D seismic survey plan for the coastal plain before Interior officials, but whether or not the plan will be approved in time for work this winter is up in the air. Balash said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is reviewing the seismic plan for how the work could impact denning polar bears. Elwood Brehmer can be reached at [email protected]

Movers and Shakers for Dec. 23

Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center added Dr. Michelle Oakley to its animal care staff. Oakley will perform veterinary duties including diagnosis, assisting in treatments, and researching medical conditions of AWCC’s resident animals. Oakley joined AWCC with 18 years of experience as a veterinarian, having previously worked at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve and the Calgary Zoo. She has been the star of the popular reality TV show “Dr. Oakley, Yukon Vet” and has been a visiting veterinarian at AWCC for several years. GCI, Alaska’s largest technology company, recently promoted Heather Handyside to vice president of Corporate Communications and Community Engagement within the company’s Legal and Policy Department. Handyside, who joined GCI in 2015, will continue to serve as the company’s primary spokesperson. Handyside will continue to work closely with the GCI Marketing team to coordinate the company’s philanthropy and volunteer programs, which donates more than $2 million to Alaska organizations each year and provides more than 32,000 hours of paid volunteer time annually to its 2,200 employees statewide. Handyside brings 20 years of government, non-profit and private sector communications experience into her new position. Alex Hofeling has been selected as the next vice president and general manager for TOTE Maritime’s Alaska office and operations. In this role, Hofeling will oversee both the Anchorage and Fairbanks offices. Hofeling has been with TOTE Maritime since September 2013. He began his time with TOTE as a regional sales manager and was promoted to director of marketing in 2016. Before TOTE, Hofeling worked for Coastal Transportation and served in the U.S. Coast Guard. Hofeling will be the face of TOTE in Alaska and work closely with the Port of Alaska, labor partners, customers and community partners. Hofeling will succeed Grace Greene who was promoted to President of TOTE Maritime Alaska in August 2018. In recognition of his extraordinary efforts to support Alaska’s non-profit community, the Alaska Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals has named GCI Senior Vice President of Consumer Services Paul Landes as the organization’s 2018 Outstanding Philanthropist. The Outstanding Philanthropist award is “presented to the individual or family who has demonstrated exceptional civic responsibility by providing ongoing and major financial support, together with effective leadership, to community-wide major fundraising projects,” according to the AFP Alaska Chapter. While Landes has a history of dedicated service to organizations that support Alaskans, his selfless commitment to the non-profit community this year has eclipsed all of his previous efforts. Since the death of Jim Balamaci in early 2018, Landes has helped launch a $2 million endowment supporting Special Olympics Alaska, where Balamaci served as president and CEO. Also with his leadership, dozens of business executives and the community at-large came together to raise more than $1 million at the Covenant House Alaska Sleep Out. GCI donates more than $2 million to Alaska organizations each year and provides more than 32,000 hours of paid volunteer time to its 2,200 employees statewide.

State investigating death at Hilcorp operation on Slope

State agencies and oil field companies are investigating the death of a worker killed Friday in a “pipe mishandling incident” at a North Slope field operated by Hilcorp Alaska, according to a state official. New but limited details emerged Dec. 11 about the early-morning fatality at Milne Point field. Hilcorp, a company that has previously come under investigation for multiple safety violations, and contractor Kuukpik Drilling, the worker’s employer, declined to provide information about the accident while the case is under investigation. “It’s a pretty emotional time for all of us,” said Kenny Overvold, general manager of Kuukpik Drilling, with about 50 employees. He said the companies are conducting internal investigations and cooperating with agencies. “At this point we don’t have anything new to release,” he said. Claire Pywell, with the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development, said the fatality occurred at 3 a.m. Dec. 7. An investigator with the Alaska Occupational Safety Health and Division flew to the scene that day, she said. The victim’s name has not been released, a step awaiting family notification procedures, Pywell said. Hollis French, chairman of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, said he spoke with Dave Wilkins, senior vice president of Hilcorp Alaska, on Friday. Wilkins characterized the death as resulting from a “pipe mishandling incident,” according to French. The worker was struck by heavy drilling pipe, French said. “It looks like a piece of pipe was mishandled on the rig floor,” French said. “They were laying down pipe,” he said, requiring sections of pipe to be moved during a drilling operation. Hilcorp spokeswoman Lori Nelson provided a statement Dec. 11 that “the cause of the incident is not known.” “We are deeply saddened by this news and our thoughts and prayers with their family and loved ones,” the statement said. Kenai radio station KSRM reported the incident Dec. 7, noting that drilling operations were suspended following the fatality. French said the AOGCC is monitoring the investigation and will review details when it’s complete, he said. The incident does not appear to be a violation of AOGCC procedures, he said. In an earlier incident at Milne Point in 2015, the agency investigated the near-suffocation of three contractors for Hilcorp that improperly used nitrogen gas during a well clean-out, forcing oxygen to be displaced from a trailer where the men were working. That led to a $200,000 fine from the agency. It also prompted a close look at Hilcorp missteps at its operations in Alaska, said French. AOGCC later released a lengthy list of Hilcorp violations dating back to 2012, not long after the Houston, Texas-based company began operating in Alaska. But AOGCC later credited the company for taking steps to prevent future problems. The improvements included the company’s Cook Inlet operations, after one of its sub-sea natural gas pipelines leaked for months before sea ice cleared enough for divers to safely repair it in spring 2017. In October, Hilcorp completed a $90 million project to move oil across the Inlet by subsea pipe instead of tankers, a step long sought by watchdog groups.

Dunleavy plans to release amended budget in January

JUNEAU — Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy’s full vision for Alaska’s budget will wait until January. In an interview with reporters before the start of the holiday open house Dec. 11 at the Governor’s Mansion in Juneau, Alaska’s new governor said he will use a modified version of former Gov. Bill Walker’s budget in order to meet a legal deadline. State law requires the governor to publicly release a budget proposal by Dec. 15 each year. “We’re going to roll it out probably on the 14th,” Dunleavy said. “It’s going to have some slight changes from what the governor (Walker) did because we need a little more time to actually put our stamp on it and spend some time working through the details with the different departments.” Dunleavy said the document coming this week will be amended “in January.” Office of Management and Budget Deputy Director Laura Cramer confirmed Dunleavy’s schedule as accurate. The governor said Alaskans should expect his budget will follow his campaign promises. “Public safety is job No. 1, making sure we have a balanced budget, putting our resources to work so we can get people back to work, and paying a full dividend,” he said. When it comes to a “full dividend,” Dunleavy confirmed that he means a dividend paid on the statutory formula and the repayment of portions of the dividend vetoed by Walker and cut by prior sessions of the Alaska Legislature. That proposal is expected to cost about $4 billion. Earlier in the day, Alaska Permanent Fund Corporation executive director Angela Rodell told the Daily News that she is planning for a $2.9 billion draw from the Permanent Fund next fiscal year. That amount was set by the Alaska Legislature last year as part of a plan for sustainable spending from the fund. “Everything about this administration is going to be about making things sustainable over the long term,” Dunleavy said, but Permanent Fund trustees have repeatedly warned about the dangers of withdrawing more money from the fund than called for under a “rules-based” approach. Earlier this year, they approved a resolution asking elected officials to keep within the rules, the better to allow investment officers to reduce risks to the state’s investments. Even staying within those rules carries some risks. In 2017, an independent analysis found that the fund stands a 50-50 chance of losing value and a significant chance of losing all of its investment earnings, which are held in an account unprotected by the Alaska Constitution. Speaking on other matters Dec. 11, Dunleavy said he will leave Alaska Dec. 12 for Washington, D.C. and meetings with President Donald Trump, the Secretary of the Department of Transportation, officials of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other federal representatives regarding recovery efforts following the Nov. 30 Southcentral earthquake. “We’re still in the process of plugging in a few more appointments,” Dunleavy said of his itinerary. He said he has not yet named a new commissioner for the Department of Military and Veterans Affairs and is “still working over that particular appointment.”

Stability amid new adminstration at Permanent Fund Corp.

JUNEAU — New Alaska Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy has made sweeping changes to the management of state agencies since taking office Dec. 3, but in the first meeting of the Alaska Permanent Fund Board of Trustees since his term began, stability was the word of the day. “Stability is going to be critical,” said new Department of Revenue Commissioner Bruce Tangeman, who, along with Natural Resources Commissioner Corri Feige, took his seat as a corporation trustee Dec. 11 in Juneau at the start of the corporation’s regular quarterly meeting. Tangeman said that when it comes to the Dunleavy administration and the Permanent Fund Corp., “there’s no grand plan coming out of the gate.” No one at the corporation, whose headquarters is in Juneau, received resignation requests sent to more than 800 state employees by the new administration, and CEO Angela Rodell remains at the helm as she was under the Walker administration. The corporation also was not included in the administrative order issued by the governor last week. That order broadened the powers of the Office of Management and Budget, allowing it to absorb the budgetary machinery within various state agencies. During his campaign for governor, Dunleavy pledged to “pay Alaskans back the money owed to them after three years of dividend cuts.” Doing so would cost $3,733 per dividend recipient. Multiplied by the 593,000 recipients mentioned by interim dividend division director Anne Weske in October, the cost is $2.2 billion. Dunleavy also pledged to use the traditional dividend formula enshrined in state law, then put it into the Alaska Constitution. That formula would result in a dividend of just more than $3,000 in 2019, for a total of $1.8 billion. The $4 billion price tag for Dunleavy’s dividend plan would rise if there are more recipients. In an interview after his election win, the governor said he would look to the Permanent Fund — and specifically the reserve account that contains its investment earnings — to pay for the idea. That will require spending above and beyond the sustainable plan approved by Alaska legislators last year. According to figures presented Dec. 11 to the corporation’s board of trustees, the corporation will make $2.93 billion available to lawmakers for appropriation in the next fiscal year, which starts July 1. Rodell told the Daily News that so far, the corporation has not changed its expectations and is not planning to make more money available. We “need to see bills and legislation” before changing investments, she said. Earlier this year, the corporation’s board of trustees renewed their request for Alaska’s elected officials to abide by a “sustainable, rules-based approach” for spending from the Permanent Fund. Trustees have also requested the Legislature continue to provide inflation-proofing payments to the fund. In 2017, the Fund’s performance suffered when lawmakers briefly considered using the Permanent Fund to balance the state’s deficit and avoid a more politically difficult maneuver to spend money from the Constitutional Budget Reserve. The prospect of needing to come up with billions of dollars for the state treasury caused fund managers to pull money from longer-term investments into more liquid ones, hurting returns. Chief Investment Officer Marcus Frampton told trustees Dec. 11 that since lawmakers passed their sustainable-draw plan, the fund has been providing the state treasury with money on an installment basis rather than a lump multibillion-dollar sum at the start of the fiscal year. That allows the Permanent Fund to hold on to investments longer than it might otherwise, increasing earnings. “If you can keep an extra $100 million in the fund for nine months, it’s worth it,” Board of Trustees chairman Craig Richards said. The state treasury department has also allowed the Permanent Fund to vary its payments based on the needs of the treasury. When oil prices are higher than expected, it has delayed asking the Fund for money the Legislature appropriated. That allows fund managers to hold on to investments slightly longer. “If there were huge volatilities in the amounts, that could be really challenging to manage. I think that’s worth Revenue keeping in mind,” Frampton said.

Movers and Shakers for Dec. 16

Northrim BanCorp Inc. announced that Aaron M. Schutt has been appointed to the board of directors, effective immediately. Schutt is currently president and CEO of Doyon Ltd., an Alaskan Native regional corporation and one of the state’s largest land owners. In 2004, Schutt was named as a recipient of the Alaska Journal of Commerce’s Top Forty Under 40 award. After graduation from Stanford Law School, Schutt clerked for Alaska Supreme Court Justice Alexander Bryner. He holds a master’s degree in civil engineering from Stanford University, and graduated with honors as an S. Town Stephenson scholar from Washington State University with a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering. Leaders of five Alaska nonprofit organizations received 2019 Rasmuson Foundation Sabbatical Awards. They will have three to six months in the coming year to unplug from demanding jobs to rest, reflect and rejuvenate. The awards, for $40,000 each, help cover the leader’s salary and costs of travel and other experiences during the time away. Each must commit to returning to their job for at least a year. Research shows that sabbaticals usually lead to much longer commitments to nonprofit work. The new awardees are as follows. Alicia Andrew, president and tribal administrator, Karluk IRA Tribal Council, has worked for the tribal council more than 30 years, a demanding position that allows for little personal time. Kay Clements, general manager, Lynn Canal Broadcasting–KHNS in Haines, helped found a community radio station in Marin County, Calif., back in 1995 and has worked in community radio ever since and in Haines since 2011. Lainie Dreas, executive director, Alaska Junior Theater, has worked 22 years for performing arts organizations including 12 as head of Alaska Junior Theater. Mary Middleton, executive director, Stone Soup Group, provides support and resources for families caring for children with special needs. She has worked 25 years for nonprofits while raising children including a son with autism. Tara Riemer, president and CEO of the Alaska SeaLife Center, has worked 15 years for the center including six as CEO. The Anchorage office of global architecture, engineering, and consulting firm Stantec recently expanded its team supporting the oil and gas industry in Alaska. Joining team are William Cobb, PE, and Jenny Iwinski. Additionally, Nick Arnold, PE, was promoted to project manager. Cobb is a senior mechanical engineer with more than 20 years of experience in the oil and gas industry, working on both onshore and offshore facilities. He has focused on drilling engineering, surface facility engineering, pipeline engineering and project management. He is a U.S. Army veteran and a graduate of the University of Florida, where he earned bachelor’s degrees in both mechanical and civil engineering. Iwinski joins Stantec as its projects control lead for petroleum work. She has more than 10 years of experience in the Alaska oil and gas industry, working on projects ranging in value from $1 million to $8 billion. She has worked on projects with multiple oil and gas clients, including Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., ConocoPhillips Alaska, BP and the Alaska Gasline Development Corp. She is a graduate of the University of Alaska Anchorage. Arnold joined Stantec in 2017 as a project engineer, and in his new project management role, he is responsible for the delivery of a wide variety of projects for Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. He has 10 years of experience in the oil and gas industry and is a registered project management professional. He is a graduate of the University of Idaho. Northrim Bank announced two new hires and two promotions. New hires are Glenn Schmitz, Cybersecurity Program manager and Kristi Dent, consumer lender. Promotions are Anita DeVore, vice president, regional sales and service manager, and Maia Hernandez, associate vice president, branch manager float team. Schmitz joins Northrim Bank with 24 years of IT and cybersecurity experience with the U.S. Air Force. He holds a bachelor’s degree in information technology management from Trident University International. Schmitz is the current president of the local International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium Chapter. Dent comes to Northrim Bank after working at Alaska USA Federal Credit Union for the past nine years. She has worked in consumer lending for three years and holds a bachelor’s degree in business management from Western Governor’s University. DeVore has been with Northrim Bank for more than 14 years. She has more than 25 years of experience in the banking industry. DeVore holds a Series 65 securities license as an investment advisor representative for Northrim Investment Services. She received Northrim’s President’s Award in 2013. Hernandez joined Northrim Bank in 2015 and has 11 years of experience in the industry, starting as a teller and advancing to a business banker, and float manager. She is a first generation immigrant and moved to Alaska from the Philippines in 2002. Anchorage-based telecommunications company Quintillion has named Michael J. “Mac” McHale, Jr. as chief revenue officer, responsible for guiding business growth as the company evolves into the next phases of its international fiber project. McHale comes to Quintillion after 16 years as principal at Expansion Services LLC, a telecom manage- ment and advisory services company based in Scottsdale, Ariz. During his 30-year career McHale has held senior management and “C” level positions in some of the most recognizable U.S. telecommunications/technology companies including IBM, Teleport Communications Group, Metropolitan Fiber Systems/MFS Communications, XO Communications, Hawaiian Tel and Innovative Communications. Quintillion’s subsea fiber optic cable system has been serving the northern Alaska communities of Utqiagvik, Wainwright, Point Hope, Kotzebue and Nome since Dec. 1, 2017. As a carrier’s carrier, Quintillion provides Gig-E bandwidth services enabling high speed broadband products and capabilities to consumers, businesses and government clients in these communities.

FISH FACTOR: Sisters from Homer, Chevak team up on skin care products

An Alaskan sisterhood of sorts is advancing a line of tundra botanicals mixed with the sea to create potent anti-aging skin care products bearing the best of both. A wild salmon Skin Serum is the first wellness product the Salmon Sisters have added to their popular line that features original designs on clothing and other ocean-themed goods. “We love how smooth and light it feels. There are beautiful notes of crowberries, which we picked throughout our childhood on the tundra behind our homestead to make jam and pies. It doesn’t smell fishy, but the salmon oil gives it a silkiness that feels very nostalgic of Alaskan summers at fish camp,” said Emma Teal Laukitis. She and sister Claire Neaton of Homer have become two of Alaska’s most well-known seafood industry ambassadors with features in Vogue, a Microsoft television ad, the Forbes’ 30 under 30 list, and their now famous legacy designs on XtraTuf boots. The crowberries in the serum are gathered from the tundra by the Sparck triplets, along with fireweed and Arctic sage (or “Ciaggluk,” meaning “nothing bad about it,”) explained Michelle (Macuarr’uq) of Chevak, who along with Cika (Ji-kah) and Amy (Kelama) operate ArXotica. Along with their own Quyung-lii brand, the Sparck sisters are producing the Skin Serum for the Salmon Sisters. ArXotica has gained fame since 2006 for its “Tundra Loving Care” products that “harness the unparalleled properties of extreme environment flora to create a super status skin care line.” “Right now we are working with the Salmon Sisters’ vision, and they are very good at design and packaging and marketing. We are hoping they will add their own magic touch to their skin care line,” said Michelle. “We love ArXotica products because they are made with ingredients unique to our state with a rich history of wellness and healing,” said Emma. “We have grown up with the wholistic benefits of wild Alaska salmon and their nutrients allow us to stay sharp and healthy and feel beautiful. It is a superfood for your skin!” The salmon/skin benefits have been borne out by other advocates. Famed New York Fifth Avenue doctor Nicholas Perricone’s bestselling books promise that eating wild salmon for 28 days is the cure for wrinkles and provides a “nutrition based face lift.” Scientists in Norway discovered a skin softening enzyme called zonase in the hatching fluid of salmon eggs that helps digest the protein structure of the shells without harming the tiny fish. A company called Aqua Bio Technology uses the enzyme in its AquaBeautine XL skin care lotion. ArXotica is now expanding into men’s and unisex products using their anti-aging serums mixed with ground mammoth tooth and will soon introduce a bearded seal oil item. “It’s for men’s beards. There’s no seal in it but we’re playing on an item that people still eat out in western Alaska,” Michelle said with a laugh. Naknek Plans Expo No. 3 It’s months away but plans already are underway for the third Bristol Bay Fish Expo on June 9 and 10 in Naknek. Naknek swells from about 400 to 12,000 people as the world’s biggest sockeye fishery gets underway each summer, and it’s the hub for 10 major processors and a fleet of nearly 1,000 boats. Bringing the industry and community together is a main impetus for the event; the bigger goal is to raise money for Little Angels Childcare Academy. “We are so fortunate because unlike many nonprofits that are always concerned about income, thanks to the Fish Expo we are doing very well,” said Katie Copps, event co-organizer, adding that after expenses, about $35,000 was raised for childcare last year. One of the biggest moneymakers and fan favorites is a fashion show that includes wearable art. (A brailer bag ball gown by Nomar of Homer stole the show last year.) The fashions and hundreds more donated items are sold at live and silent auctions. Last year 56 exhibitors were on the show floor and Copps said room is being made for more, along with added food booths. Donations and for the fashion show, auction and sponsors are being accepted now. Early sign ups can choose their space from a floor plan at www.bristolbayfishexpo.com/ Blue economy buzz Using robots and bioengineered bacteria to refurbish old fishing boats took top honors at the recent Ocean Technology Innovation Sprint, or OTIS, at the Loussac Library in Anchorage. The Google-inspired sprint concept, hosted by the Alaska Ocean Cluster, brings entrepreneurs together to create prototype solutions to challenges of their choice within a set time. The OTIS event attracted 16 people who split into four teams over four weeks. Team Silver’s winning First Step Marine Refurbishment prototype was designed to create more value for Alaska’s aging fleet of fishing boats and other vessels by using robotics and bacteria to remove hull fouling, pollutants and paint. Team King came up with a FishStat Alaska Wet Ruler, a phone app that manages fishing licenses and regulations, identifies fish, and more. “It measures your catch, records where you caught it — it’s an alternative to traditional methods and makes it quick and easy in the field,” said Meg Pritchard, marketing and communications manager for the AOC. Team Coho conceptualized an Alaska Marine Biotechnology Institute that focuses on uses for sea organisms and systems. The Fan Favorite was Team Sockeye’s Happy Clam Portable PSP Tester. Just swab the shellfish with a test strip and the kit tells if it is safe to eat. The Alaska Ocean Cluster is modeled after a program that began decades ago in Iceland to connect entrepreneurs, academia and businesses and bring blue economy ideas to fruition. The Alaska Cluster acts as a mentor for incubating new businesses. “For people who want to keep going we have other programs, like our Blue Pipeline Initiative and our scale accelerator that takes viable business ideas and helps them scale up,” Pritchard said. The Cluster also hosts Ocean Tuesdays, a weekly webinar platform open to all to exchange blue economy ideas in Alaska and globally. The Alaska Ocean Cluster is funded by the Bering Sea Fishermen’s Association in partnership with the University of Alaska’s Economic Development and Business Enterprise Institute. ^ Laine Welch lives in Kodiak. Visit www.alaskafishradio.com or contact [email protected] for information.

Federal earthquake relief to be addressed by next Congress

Additional federal aid is undoubtedly on its way north after the Nov. 30 earthquake, but Alaska will have to wait its turn. Members of the Alaska congressional delegation and their staffs said in the week following the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that disaster relief appropriations would likely first go towards hurricane recovery in the Carolinas and Gulf Coast. The Federal Highway Administration released $5 million in Emergency Relief funds to the Alaska Department of Transportation Dec. 1 at the request of then-Gov. Bill Walker and DOT officials. FHWA considers that initial $5 million to be a “down payment on the costs of short-term repairs while the state continues damage assessments for long-term repairs,” an agency release states. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee, said Dec. 3 after touring some of the damage across Southcentral with Sen. Dan Sullivan that Congress would likely approve hurricane relief funding before breaking for the holidays. She forecasted a separate disaster supplemental spending bill addressing California’s wildfires and the Alaska earthquake sometime shortly after the new Congress convenes in January. The primary reason for not simply tacking on to the hurricane relief, which staffers noted has been in the works for months, is to get a better understanding as to just how much damage, in monetary terms, was done. “We don’t need to hurry up quick and throw a number out there just to throw a number out there because Congress is ending,” Murkowski said. “We do have time. We do need to take the time to do a fair and accurate assessment.” Sullivan added that it could take significant time for state officials to determine exactly what amount of federal assistance is needed. “Our message (to those reviewing damage) was take your time to get it right, to get it accurate because we’ll probably have one shot, a good shot, to do it. We certainly don’t want to lowball any estimates right off the bat,” Sullivan said. The senators said they received a call from Vice President Mike Pence in the hours following the earthquake and have heard from other high-ranking federal officials and members of Congress that Alaska will be afforded all of the resources needed to fully recover. A FEMA spokesman said the agency is still assessing damage. On Friday President Donald Trump signed a two-week funding bill that avoids a partial federal government shutdown until Dec. 21. Murkowski said the hurricane relief bill would move through Congress ahead of a budget resolution to make sure the priority appropriation is taken care of. In October, Congress attached nearly a nearly $1.7 billion appropriation for the Carolinas to the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill, which Sens. Richard Burr and Thom Tillis referred to in a release as a “down payment” on Hurricane Florence relief work. Sullivan estimated the toll of the earthquake to be “at least hundreds of millions of damage that we saw” during a Thursday speech on the Senate floor. “I know people are scared and nervous wondering how they’re going to pay for all the damage, but we’re going to work together through that,” he added Thursday. Murkowski spokeswoman Karina Borger said via email that federal aid would likely be channeled through relevant agencies, such as Housing and Urban Development, for qualifying residential damage. Earthquake damage is spread from the Kenai Peninsula north to Anchorage and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. The most widespread destruction occurred in Eagle River, just east of the epicenter and in the areas of the Mat-Su immediately surrounding the epicenter at Point MacKenzie. “Some of these schools look like someone has completely exploded them inside,” Sullivan described. Eagle River Elementary and Gruening Middle School in Eagle River sustained major damage and will be closed for the rest of the school year. Houston Middle School in the Mat-Su will be closed the rest of the year as well and school officials have questioned whether or not it is repairable. Roughly a week after the quake struck DOT had identified 50 instances of damage to state roads, with eight considered “major” damage, according to spokeswoman Shannon McCarthy said. Temporary repairs to sections of the Glenn and Seward highways, as well as the Minnesota Blvd.-International Airport Road interchange were complete within a few days. However, road crews will to return to the once-buckled sections in spring to make permanent fixes. How much those permanent repairs will cost is still unclear, McCarthy said. Look for updates to this story in an upcoming issue of the Journal. Elwood Brehmer can be reached at [email protected]

Dunleavy Q&A: Rural education, public safety and how to pay for it

NOORVIK — Dec. 3 marked the first day on the job for Gov. Mike Dunleavy, the Republican former state senator who won a lopsided victory over Democrat Mark Begich. Speaking to inauguration crowds in Northwest Alaska, Dunleavy repeated campaign promises of battling crime — “We are not going to tolerate any more sexual assault,” he said in Kotzebue — and improving rural education. He has also vowed to deliver a super-sized Permanent Fund dividend after his predecessor, independent Gov. Bill Walker, fell out of favor, in part, because of his insistence on using fund earnings to help pay for government services. As a candidate, Dunleavy was criticized by opponents who said his promises would eventually deplete Alaska’s piggy bank without refilling it through taxes or other means. Now joined by a Republican-controlled Legislature, Dunleavy takes the reins with the potential to make big changes to life in Alaska. Hours after he was sworn in to the state’s highest political office, Dunleavy spoke to Daily News reporters about what he plans to do and how he says he would pay for it. Q. You talked today in Kotzebue and Noorvik about public safety in particular Bush public safety — saying it was your top priority? A. That is job No. 1. We have to make sure that Alaskans are safe whether it’s urban Alaska or rural Alaska. And that is what we are gonna focus on. Q. There are dozens of villages with no police at all. What is the state’s role in fixing that problem? A. We have a role to make sure folks are safe. This is our first day. It’s a couple hours old, this administration. But we’re going to be having meetings this week about how to put our public safety approach into place. We’ll be naming a couple more cabinet members on Wednesday. Once we do that, we’re going to start to roll out a series of initiatives to make Alaska safer. Q. Were any prosecutors fired today? A. I’d have to double check on that. I know that a number of folks got a letter to send in their resignations and I know that there’s going to be some discussions with people. The vast majority of people are going to end up most likely being brought back into the administration. Q. The one thing I didn’t hear you say today — but speakers in Noorvik talked about — was climate change or global warming and their concerns about the weather. What’s the state’s responsibility? A. I came from Pennsylvania, which was a smokestack state. Places like Pittsburgh, Philadelphia. Alaska’s footprint in terms of being a contributor to pollution or however you want to word it is pretty small compared to other states in the U.S. So my focus has been trying to create jobs for our kids and grandkids so they don’t have to leave the state. The issue of global warming, in many respects, it’s still being debated as to how to deal with it, what exactly is causing it. I know there’s a lot of folks and scientists who believe that man is contributing to this. But the question is, what is Alaska’s role in this? What is Alaska doing? Alaska is being affected by erosion, there’s no doubt about it. Whether it’s Barrow, Kivalina, Shishmaref and points south. So that’s going to be the focus of this administration and the federal government, is working together and seeing what are we going to do with those communities. Because if the storms keep rolling in, obviously there is going to be more erosion. Q. Today you talked about not closing rural schools. You talked about beefing up police in the Bush and keeping your promise on a big dividend. All those things are expensive. How can you pay for them when we are in a time of low revenues and bad prospects? A. You pay for the PFD with $19 billion in the Earnings Reserve. That’s not a hard one. Q. Isn’t it less than $19 billion? A. $18 billion, 800 million. Projected to grow over the next couple months. Probably will surpass $20 billion here shortly. But nonetheless, that’s how you pay for the PFD. We’re starting to crack open the administration right now and looking at the number of jobs that were not filled. Maybe the number of jobs that we don’t need. We can move some of those resources into public safety. That will be the first thing that is budgeted is public safety … you can’t fix it unless you do that. Your educational system, what I’ve talked about is working with governmental entities, the federal government, tribes and others to potentially build dorm capacity in some of our regional hubs like Kotzebue. And they’ve already done that. We have dorms in Kotzebue. But how many other dorms do they need for term type of regional schools where kids, for example, from Noorvik can go to Kotzebue and learn how to drive. Get certifications in a number of different areas. Take some challenging courses such as physics labs and biology labs, which you might not be able to get in a smaller school. That’s what we’re looking at doing, but partnering with the federal government, partnering with some of the tribes. Q. After the quake hit, did you think about whether or not to have the ceremony today and wonder if it might pull you away for too long from where you’re needed? A. Well sure, we had that debate. We didn’t know the extent of the damage. We didn’t know the extent of the attention it was going to need for our administration, which wasn’t in place yet. We had those discussions with the governor. We had those discussions with the first responders at the command center down at JBER and within our own transition team. And it was touch-and-go up until a day or so ago. But thank God the injuries weren’t there. Certainly no deaths, which is a miracle. We didn’t have any pancaked buildings. We didn’t have any bridges actually come down. So the damage was, given the size of that earthquake and the aftershocks, the damage was a lot less than I think most of us thought. So the response to deal with that is more than adequate. Folks out here put a lot of effort into this event, so we figured we could get out this morning, do the event and get back. We’ll be back in Anchorage by about 5 o’clock. In many respects about commitment. We wanted to have it here. We told them we were coming. People spent a lot of time, a lot of energy putting this together. … It was important. Too often there are parts of Alaska that feel forgotten.

AGDC’s continued responses to FERC cover Cook Inlet crossing, health impacts

In filings with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last month, Alaska Gasline Development Corp. provided further details of its plan to tunnel and/or trench the buried pipeline from the west side of Cook Inlet. The plan is to tunnel far enough out in the water so that the pipe-laying barge could take over and set the concrete-coated pipeline on the seafloor to reach the other side, where trenching and/or tunneling would resume to bring the pipe ashore at Nikiski. AGDC said it prefers open-cut trenching for pipeline installation in the transition zones on both sides of Cook Inlet but could change the plan to tunneling as it learns more during the project’s detailed engineering stage. In its data request to AGDC, federal regulators noted that the project did not conduct geotechnical soil borings in the full transition zone on either side of Cook Inlet, limiting the data available to decide between tunneling and open-cut trenching. The pipeline would be buried with a minimum soil cover of three feet in the shoreline approach up to a water depth of 12 feet below mean lower low water (the average height of the lowest tide). In deeper water, where the pipeline is on the seafloor with no soil cover, AGDC said the 3.5 inches of concrete coating would protect the steel pipe from any damage from fishing gear, anchors or boulders. “The pipeline is safe without burial,” AGDC said. Separate from the FERC-led EIS, approval of the pipeline construction plan across Cook Inlet will be up to the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration and its regulations. Health impact assessment is wide ranging AGDC on Nov. 19 provided federal regulators with the project’s health impact assessment, which looks at how construction and operations could affect the health of Alaskans — including subsistence lifestyle and food nutrition. The filing is 170 pages long. “The presence of outside workers could exacerbate social problems or stress and impact mental health … particularly in smaller communities,” the assessment said. “Households impacted would be expected to adapt with some difficulty but could maintain pre-impact level of health with support from community, regionally based and existing federal support of Native health, public health programs. … Potential construction impacts to subsistence during the construction phase are expected to be temporary in duration,” the assessment said. “Potential concern related to subsistence resources during construction is the possibility that workers might compete with subsistence users resulting in either diminished harvests or greater subsistence effort. The project will prohibit workers from hunting or fishing while on the job or when company transportation has been used to bring them to a remote site.” The assessment’s subsistence section also raised the issue of invasive species. “The introduction of invasive species (both fish and/or aquatic plants) could impact fish habitat and/or productivity and impact fish availability to subsistence users. … The introduction of invasive species could become a long-term impact if their spread is uncontrolled, thus potentially signaling a long term reduced fish availability for subsistence users and users downstream of the impacted areas.” In another section, the assessment said Railbelt and highway communities “would be expected to be impacted by the increase in traffic during construction, which could cause mental stress and anxiety regarding the real or perceived issues of safety and environmental health associated with the increased rail and truck traffic.” Though it added, “Employment opportunities could alleviate family stress by improving family income, and the local economy during construction.” And the assessment noted that local fire departments and emergency medical service squads could see higher call volume during construction, while also facing the potential loss of staff and volunteers moving to Alaska LNG project construction jobs. Payments to municipalities under the project’s proposed impact aid grant program could help cover any added costs, AGDC told federal regulators. However, the project has yet to negotiate an impact aid program with the state and affected municipalities. Other responses AGDC’s November filings with FERC covered multiple other issues, including: • AGDC defended its plan to use gravel fill for work areas in wetlands during construction. In answer to questions from FERC, the state team said timber mats, wood chips or protective mats made of composite material would be too costly and impractical to deploy during construction. Wood or composite mats would cost two to four times as much as gravel fill, AGDC said. • “Typically, gravel fill would be placed as a protective cover over thaw-sensitive areas along the right-of-way during construction and would not be removed during restoration because it would be difficult to avoid disrupting the thermal regime of adjacent, undisturbed areas,” AGDC reported to FERC. • The project’s gravel sourcing and reclamation plan covers development of new sources of sand, gravel and fill for construction, along with plans to store or dispose of unsuitable materials that would be removed from the site such as unusable topsoil, overburden or frost-susceptible material. • A revised table lists locations of potential deep and shallow landslides, slope creep, rock falls, rock avalanches, debris flows and snow avalanches based on the project’s recently updated onshore geohazard assessment methodology and results summary. • “If warming continues for the next 30 years, it could change local permafrost and groundwater conditions sufficiently to result in mechanically weaker soils,” AGDC told FERC. “In these areas, significant precipitation events as well as earthquakes might have substantial impact on soil stability and, thus, pipeline integrity.” The state team was responding to FERC’s Oct. 2 comment that “AGDC’s proposed mitigation for soil liquefaction … and does not take into account areas that could become prone to liquefaction due to climate change and permafrost degradation.” The project responded that it would monitor and “apply mitigation techniques to minimize potential impacts from permafrost degradation along the pipeline.” • “It is unlikely permafrost would be thermally affected” by blasting for pipeline trenching, AGDC said. “Blasted trench areas are easily controlled to limit the disturbed materials to within the frozen trench walls and accordingly would not result in a shift in soil makeup and the permafrost profile.” • Thaw-sensitive soils cover a total of about 500 miles of the main pipeline route from Prudhoe Bay to Nikiski and the line from Point Thomson to Prudhoe. • Traffic on a 5-mile stretch of the Parks Highway outside the Denali National Park and Preserve would be limited to one lane September through May during pipeline construction, with brief closures (“hours, not days”) of both lanes. “Construction within this window would coincide with the off-season for tourism.” The project would try to limit the complete shutdowns to evening hours. • AGDC presented its plans to monitor commercial, domestic and public-supply water wells within 150 feet of the project — most of those wells are near the LNG plant site. The state team said it would test public water wells before and after construction to determine if the work affected the wells. Private wells would be tested at the landowners’ request. • Pile driving would occur 12 hours a day, 7 days a week at the LNG plant construction site, while pile driving at the compressor station and heater station construction sites along the pipeline route would occur 24 hours per day. Dredging for the marine offloading terminal at the Nikiski site would occur 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. ^ Larry Persily is a former Alaska journalist, state and federal official who has long tracked oil and gas markets and projects worldwide.

Movers and Shakers for Dec. 9

Ahtna Inc. announced several new hires within its subsidiaries. Ahtna Global LLC hired Rachel Thompson as proposal manager. Thompson’s professional background includes more than 17 years of experience in marketing, business development, proposal writing, technical editing, and project coordination. More than 10 of those years have been spent in Alaska supporting the environmental, engineering, and energy industries. She holds a bachelor’s degree in language studies from the University of California Santa Cruz and is a member of the Association of Proposal Management Professionals. Michael Records, MS, EIT, joined Ahtna Environmental Inc. as an environmental engineer. With both master’s and bachelor’s degrees in Civil Engineering from the University of Colorado, Records has seven years of professional experience, primarily in Alaska. His duties include support of environmental and construction work including site investigations, remediation, compliance, and demolition. Denise Yancey joins Ahtna Environmental Inc. as the proposal coordinator for the business development department. She holds a bachelor’s degree in technology from the University of Alaska Anchorage and an associate degree in electronics systems technology from the Community College of the U.S. Air Force. Yancey has been professionally published many times, has more than 20 years of experience in the field, and has lived in Alaska for 33 years. She is a member of the Society of Marketing Professional Services. Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska promoted Frances Andrews to Tribal Court administrator. Frances joined the Tribal Court in July 2017 to serve as the lead clerk of the court. Prior to joining Tlingit and Haida’s Tribal Court, she served as the registered agent clerk for Hoffman and Blasco and also held various positions at SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium. Frances is in her final year of school and will be receiving her bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in management from the University of Alaska Southeast. In her new role, Frances will be responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Tribal Court, including case flow management; supervision of Tribal Court personnel; developing and implementing policies and procedures, statutes and other governing documents pertaining to the Tribal Court; maintaining the Tribe’s law library containing decisions rendered from the Tribal Court; developing the Tribal Court’s annual budget; and completing required reporting on all grants administered by the Tribal Court. Great Alaskan Holidays, Alaska’s largest RV rental, sales, and service business headquartered in Anchorage, has hired Kevin Linkenhoker as a full-time member of its vehicle maintenance technician team. Linkenhoker has more than six years of relative technical experience, and is a graduate of South Anchorage High School.

Tariff pause doesn’t change talks with China on AK LNG

Alaska Gasline Development Corp. officials believe the recent announcement of a 90-day pause on new tariffs between the U.S. and China is a positive development, but it has not changed their broader approach to reaching firm agreements with their Chinese counterparts. AGDC spokesman Jesse Carlstrom said the leaders of the state agency have continued to monitor what they refer to as the “trade friction” between the companies, which they view as short-term while Alaska LNG is a generational project. They have remained consistent in their view of the U.S.-China trade dispute while working to finalize deals to underpin the Alaska LNG Project with three of China’s largest companies. President Donald Trump said in a Dec. 1 statement from the White House that he and China President Xi Jinping agreed to a 90-day pause on new or steeper tariffs on goods traded between the countries. That means a previously discussed tariff increase from 10 percent to 25 percent on roughly $200 billion of Chinese imports will not happen Jan. 1. China has instituted a 10 percent tariff on U.S. LNG imports in response to initial tariffs imposed by the Trump administration on Chinese goods. China originally contemplated a 25 percent tariff on U.S. LNG imports. State-owned Chinese oil and gas giant Sinopec is a potential anchor customer for the project after it signed a nonbinding joint development agreement with AGDC to purchase up to 75 percent of Alaska LNG’s expected 20 million tons per year of production capacity in November 2017. That agreement, or JDA, also detailed the prospect of the Bank of China and China Investment Corp. correspondingly financing up to 75 percent of project development costs with a mix of debt and equity. “All parties, AGDC and the JDA parties, have proceeded through 2018 on the work to advance the project,” Carlstrom said. AGDC President Keith Meyer has said there are no signs from the Chinese negotiating team that the tariffs have slowed progress on the Alaska LNG deals. Meyer stresses that the project would be a major step towards balancing trade between the countries and thus should be part of resolving the economic tensions. The Chinese consortium and AGDC signed a supplemental agreement Sept. 29 to collectively reaffirm their desire to reach a firm deal by the end of this year. The JDA has a Dec. 31 deadline for final agreements; however, former Gov. Bill Walker said in a late November interview with the Journal that he thought the deadline might need to be adjusted in light of a new state administration taking over. Former Gov. Sean Parnell, who initiated the current Alaska LNG Project iteration at the time led by the major North Slope producers, is advising new Gov. Mike Dunleavy on the state-led effort. Carlstrom said AGDC and the JDA parties continue to advance negotiations on all fronts. “We’re still on track and still aiming for that Dec. 31 target,” he said. “We’re also advancing agreements across the entire Asia-Pacific region.” AGDC officials have touted receiving 15 letters of interest from potential LNG customers in Asia over the past two years, but most of them — including even the names of the interested parties — have been kept confidential. Carlstrom noted that if the JDA deadline passes without firm LNG sale and financing deals in place the negotiations can continue if all the parties agree. ^ Elwood Brehmer can be reached at [email protected]

Railroad back on track three days after quake

The first Alaska Railroad trains were back traveling between Anchorage and Fairbanks late Dec. 3 following the 7.0 magnitude earthquake that damaged the tracks running between Alaska’s largest cities Nov. 30. Alaska Railroad Corp. spokesman Tim Sullivan said afternoon Dec. 3 that service on the railroad’s northern route was expected to resume later that day “due to the hard work of a hell of a lot of people.” A day-and-a-half after the quake it was unclear when the tracks would be reopened as the quake had rendered at least three areas “impassable,” Sullivan told the Anchorage Daily News at the time, as inspections were ongoing. Dec. 3 he said at least a half-dozen areas of damage were identified including the three that required immediate repairs to reopen the route. “Those three are now passable,” Sullivan said. “They will be slow orders. There will be folks going over them beforehand to make sure that they’re in good shape; folks will be going over them after the trains to make sure they’re still in good shape — that we don’t see any difference in them after the trains go through and that will be the case for quite some time.” In addition to areas where the gravel bed subsided, there were other areas where the tracks shifted but can still be used with caution at slower than normal speeds, he added. As is the case with many construction projects in Alaska, there is a lot the railroad can’t do to repair its tracks in the winter so some of the work will have to wait until spring, according to Sullivan. The tracks south of Anchorage to Whittier and Seward did not sustain as much damage. The railroad issued a subsequent release Dec. 4 stating that it was set to resume regularly scheduled passenger and freight service along the entirety of its routes. “We could not be more pleased with the work our crews have done to get the Alaska Railroad back up and running in just over 72 hours,” Vice President of Marketing Dale Wade said in a formal statement. “This incredible effort from railroaders speaks to the grit and perseverence of Alaska and its people. We are happy to be able to return to serving our passengers and freight customers so quickly.” Summer is the busy season for passenger service, but the Alaska Railroad has increased its winter ridership in recent years by offering offseason fare discounts along with holiday, aurora-viewing and other themed trains. In all, the railroad has passenger service on 482 miles of track from Fairbanks to Whittier and Seward. The railroad has also been a primary supplier of fuel to the Interior since Flint Hills Resources closed its North Pole refinery in the spring of 2014. The earthquake also caused a pipe to burst in the railroad’s Anchorage Operations Center, which will require significant work to repair, but the railroad’s other facilities in Anchorage sustained only minor damage. Elwood Brehmer can be reached at [email protected]

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