Elwood Brehmer

EPA inches closer to stopping Pebble

The Environmental Protection Agency took another step towards blocking a Pebble copper and gold mine July 18.

Dennis McLerran, EPA Region 10 administrator, said in a formal statement that the agency is moving to protect the robust salmon stocks of Bristol Bay from the possible impacts of a large mine in the region.

Fairbanks legislator suggests Interior gas pilot project

A Fairbanks legislator is pushing state officials to market the benefits of converting home heating systems away from fuel oil to Interior residents.

Rep. David Guttenberg said representatives from the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority and its sister group the Alaska Energy Authority involved in the Interior Energy Project have expressed concerns over the prospect of a market for North Slope gas in the Fairbanks area at recent meetings.

Industry offers avgas alternatives, FAA targets 2018 use

The Federal Aviation Administration announced July 10 it has received proposals for alternatives to leaded fuels for piston-fired engines.

FAA officials have said their goal is to have an unleaded aviation fuel option available by 2018.

“We’re committed to getting harmful lead out of general aviation fuel. This work will benefit the environment and provide a safe and available fuel for our general aviation community,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a formal statement.

Alaskans take up oil debate before Aug. vote

The public was encouraged to participate in the oil tax discussion July 14 during a debate between current and former state government officials broadcast across Alaska.

Voters will have the final say on the issue August 19 when they either vote “yes” on Ballot Measure 1 to repeal the current oil tax structure known as Senate Bill 21, or “no” to keep SB 21 in place.

Strong, early sockeye returns highlight salmon season

The Bristol Bay sockeye run continues to exceed expectations.

Prior to the season, the Alaska Department Fish and Game forecast was for a sockeye run of 26.6 million fish. A run of that size would have allowed a commercial harvest of 17.9 million fish, leaving about 8.7 million fish for escapement. All of those numbers have already been surpassed.

Through July 7, ADFG counted a total salmon run of 30.88 million in the region. The commercial harvest through that day was 21.14 million fish.

Nearing 30 years, state power program keeps going and going

About to turn 30 years old, a state power assistance program is more important than ever to life in rural Alaska.

The Power Cost Equalization Program, known as PCE, helps mitigate the financial burden of electric bills that can be downright exorbitant with just modest power use in some parts of the state.

MARAD seeks dismissal of port suit

The U.S. Maritime Administration asked a federal court to throw out the Municipality of Anchorage’s suit against the agency over its involvement in the city’s port expansion debacle.

In its motion for dismissal submitted June 27 to U.S. Court of Federal Claims Judge Edward Damich, the Maritime Administration, or MARAD, asserts the memorandums of understanding it worked under on the Port of Anchorage construction project were cooperative agreements and do not hold it liable for the money lost on the currently stalled project.

AIDEA advances Interior gas project despite unknowns

The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority board of directors approved the framework of an agreement for the construction and operation of a North Slope natural gas liquefaction plant June 26 without yet knowing exactly what its financial contribution to the plant will be.

Haida Energy and AEA agree on loan for Prince of Wales hydro

It took a few tries, but the Alaska Energy Authority approved a loan June 26 that everyone involved could support to get Prince of Wales Island off diesel power.

The $20 million loan to Haida Energy Inc., a joint venture between the village corporation of Haida Corp. and Alaska Power and Telephone, will be used to construct the Reynolds Creek hydro project about 10 miles east of the village of Hydaburg on Price of Wales Island in Southeast Alaska.

State asks to join King Cove's lawsuit over road access

Alaska is again looking for a fight with the feds, this time over the King Cove access road.

Assistant Attorney General Thomas Lenhart filed a motion June 30 to intervene on behalf of the tribes of King Cove in the tribe’s federal District Court lawsuit against Interior Secretary Sally Jewell over Jewell’s rejection of a proposed emergency access road between the communities of King Cove and Cold Bay.

Also listed as plaintiffs in the case is the Aleutians East Borough and King Cove Corp., the Native village corporation.

State asks to join King Cove suit

Alaska is again looking for a fight with the feds, this time over the King Cove access road.

State Assistant Attorney General Thomas Lenhart filed a motion June 30 to intervene on behalf of the tribes of King Cove in the tribe’s federal District Court lawsuit against Interior Secretary Sally Jewell over Jewell’s rejection of a proposed emergency access road between the communities of King Cove and Cold Bay.

Also listed as plaintiffs in the case is the Aleutians East Borough and King Cove Corp., the Native village corporation.

Building sector maintains gains from 2013

Crews are busy across Alaska as the summer building season is in full swing.

With the exception of Fairbanks, year-to-date building activity in the state’s largest cities has been comparable to the first months of 2013, a rebound year for construction in much of Alaska when employment returned to its pre-recession peak.

Bill to simplify vehicle registrations signed into law

WASILLA — Gov. Sean Parnell signed legislation June 20 aimed at simplifying vehicle registration for Alaskans with older cars.

House Bill 19 gives individuals the option to permanently register their personal vehicles that are at least eight years old. It also gives personal trailer owners the option to permanently register their trailers.

Stoltze, R-Chugiak, the bill’s sponsor, said HB 19 would encourage compliance with state vehicle registration laws.

Parnell signs state-led plan to advance Knik Arm Crossing

WASILLA — Gov. Sean Parnell officially approved a state-led financing plan for the Knik Arm Crossing June 20 when he signed House Bill 23 into law. A day prior, there was a sentimental feel at the Knik Arm Bridge and Toll Authority board meeting.

With HB 23 becoming law July 1 at the beginning of the state fiscal year, the bridge project bantered about for decades is closer to becoming reality than ever before.

Bering Straits Native Corp. seeks land for future Arctic port

The prospect of new port facilities in Western Alaska will rely heavily on Arctic oil and gas development, according to a recent Northern Economics study.

Commissioned by Bering Straits Native Corp. and marine services company Crowely Maritime Corp., the feasibility analysis released June 6 focused on Port Clarence, northwest of Nome on the Seward Peninsula.

BSNC found that a “basic” port and man camp could be up and running within four years of a firm oil and gas industry commitment to engage in developing the Alaska Outer Continental Shelf, or OCS, energy resources.

Breakwater next step in Seward marine development

The City of Seward is ready to jumpstart development that has been decades in the making.

When Gov. Sean Parnell signed the fiscal year 2015 capital budget May 28, Seward was officially awarded $5.9 million from the state to complete its breakwater and begin full-scale work on what the city calls the Seward Marine Industrial Center.

Wash out halts rail service to Seward

Alaska Railroad passengers hoping to take the train to Seward will have to wait at least one more day to get there by rail.

High water at Skookum Creek near Portage washed out an 80-foot section of the track bed adjacent to the bridge over the creek Tuesday morning.

The railroad’s Glacier Discovery train route has also been shortened as a result of the washout, according to an Alaska Railroad Corp. release. The sightseeing train will stop at Whittier instead of following its normal route to whistle stops at Spencer and Grandview south of Portage.

Deadlines looming for Interior gas project

The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority is in overdrive to finalize agreements for all of the facets of the complex plan to deliver lower cost natural gas to the state Interior.

Staff from AIDEA’s project partner, Colorado-based engineering and consulting firm MWH Americas Inc., helped lay out the near-term Interior Energy Project timeline to the state authority’s board of directors at a June 4 meeting.

July hearing set for Kenai Loop gas payments

Buccaneer Energy, Cook Inlet Region Inc., and the State of Alaska will be back before the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission July 7 to duke it out once more over gas royalty rights from Buccaneer’s Kenai Loop well pad.

The hearing will be held — as has been the case with most milestones in the dispute — if the parties cannot come to an agreement on royalty payments prior to July 7.

Prudhoe flight first commercial use over land for UAS

The nation’s the first commercial unmanned aircraft flight over land took place June 8 when a drone working for BP flew over the Prudhoe Bay oil fields.

The Federal Aviation Administration issued a certificate of authorization, or COA, to allow BP to survey pipelines, roads and other North Slope equipment, the agency announced June 10.

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