Alaskan picked to lead regional EPA office

Alaska state Commerce Commissioner Chris Hladick has been chosen to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's regional office based in Seattle.

Hladick will join the agency in December, the EPA said Tuesday.

Hladick will leave his state role Nov. 1, Alaska Gov. Bill Walker said. Mike Navarre, the outgoing mayor of the Kenai Peninsula Borough, will succeed Hladick at the state Commerce Department.

Hladick previously held city manager roles in several Alaska communities, including Unalaska and Dillingham.

AJOC EDITORIAL: Trump restores separation of powers

After President Barack Obama used Congressional intransigence as an excuse to upend the separation of powers spelled out in the Constitution, President Donald Trump is using the same reason to restore it.

Not once, not twice, but more than two dozen times, Obama told audiences and interviewers that the Constitution did not allow him to use an executive order to change the immigration status of millions of people brought to the country illegally as children.

INSIDE REAL ESTATE: Alaska housing agency should build on mission

Congratulations to the Alaska Housing Finance Corp. for being one of the best-managed public housing agencies in the nation. Established 45 years ago to provide “Alaskans access to safe, quality, affordable housing,” its mission is perhaps more important today than ever before.

FISH FACTOR: Dept. of Energy looks to seaweed as energy source

Kodiak is at the center of a national push to produce biofuels from seaweeds.

Agents from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, ARPA-E, recently traveled to the island to meet with a team of academics, scientists, businesses and local growers to plan the first steps of a bicoastal pilot project to modernize methods to grow sugar kelp as a fuel source.

The project is bankrolled by a $500,000 grant to the University of Alaska Fairbanks through a new DOE program called Macroalgae Research Inspiring Novel Energy Resources, or MARINER.

Electronic monitoring rolling out in 2018 after years of work

Alaska fishermen will see changes to the mandatory observer program next year.

After years of requests, testing and prepping, the National Marine Fisheries Service is rolling out a more-complete electronic monitoring program for small boat fishermen who are directed to have partial observer coverage as part of the 2018 observer program.

Electronic Monitoring uses cameras and sensors to record and monitor fishing activities, and help ensure the accuracy of catch records. Normally, that work is done by human observers who are placed on fishing vessels.

Major crab harvests down again, Tanners reopen

Biologists had some less-than-stellar news about Alaska’s crab fisheries this month: surveys have shown that several species’ biomass have declined in the past year, although Tanner crab are on the rebound compared to past years.

Last year, the big crab harvests — Bristol Bay red king crab, along with Tanner and snow crabs — were all cut, with Tanners closed completely, due to concerns about the amount showing up in surveys. So this year’s news was not out of the blue, and the reopening of the Tanner crab fishery was an upshot.

Karluk Tribe keeps up fight over ownership of river

Centuries of tides changed the Karluk River’s course and the Tribe that continues to claim ownership today.

Storms in Shelikof Strait altered the beach where the ancient Alutiiq people settled thousands of years ago on Kodiak Island. It sent up big boulders, not just sand and pebbles. Slate blue waters covered the homes of those people and when that wasn’t enough, swallowed the artifacts so that only divers can regain its past for future people. It made more modern generations move.

GUEST COMMENTARY: Congress should protect Alaskans’ rights to arbitration

In a recent class action lawsuit against Ticketmaster, the court ordered the company to pay out $42 million over four years, and no less than $10.5 million per year to consumers.

However, the reality of what consumers actually received is detailed in a New York Times article entitled, “Why You Probably Won’t Get to Use Your Ticketmaster Vouchers.”

Outlined in the article is the fine print of the settlement including the difficulty consumers have in actually receiving any remuneration.

‘Bioblitz’ turns up no new non-native aquatics

WHITTIER — When on the hunt for invaders, no news is usually good news.

That’s exactly the kind of good news Smithsonian Environmental Research Center scientists were able to report to the Prince William Sound Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council after a summer-long search in 2016 for non-indigenous species in the waters around Valdez.

Solving deficit in ‘revenue’ session challenged on multiple fronts

Alaska legislators will convene in Juneau Oct. 23 at the behest of Gov. Bill Walker but indications are their time together could be brief.

Senate Majority Leader Peter Micciche, R-Soldotna, said his caucus will be in Juneau for the necessary formalities of the 30-day special session but will hold most of its committee meetings in Anchorage.

ExxonMobil stands by its Point Thomson plan of development

ExxonMobil Alaska leaders insist the company has complied with a 2012 settlement with the State of Alaska over the long-challenged $4 billion Point Thomson North Slope natural gas project and that current state regulators don’t understand the company’s future plans.

ExxonMobil Alaska Production Manager Cory Quarles wrote to Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Andy Mack on Oct. 12 that the Point Thomson Unit plan of development the company submitted to the department’s Division of Oil and Gas on June 30 is sufficient, despite the division’s claims to the contrary.

Opioid epidemic costs to Alaska topped $1 billion in 2015

Anyone who’s found their homes burglarized or their cars broken into or stolen is increasingly likely to be a victim of the opioid epidemic.

Strewn in parking lot litter and on dog-walk pathways are the spent syringes from someone’s latest fix.

Movers and Shakers for Oct. 22

Startups make their pitch at Launch Alaska Demo Day

A cyber attack that breached 143 million citizens’ credit information isn’t just a worst-case scenario.

“That’s no hypothetical; it’s what happened at Equifax,” said Courtney Targos, pitching her startup Threat Informant Managed Services Oct. 13 at Launch Alaska Demo Day in the Beartooth Theatre Pub.

The startup was one of four new business graduates of Launch Alaska’s 2017 cohort. 60Hertz, Helix and Attently also completed this year’s business accelerator designed to propel them toward success. Each pitched concepts to investors at the event.

State still seeking major LNG customer by year-end

The Alaska Gasline Development Corp. won’t be asking for additional funding before the agency knows if it will build the roughly $40 billion Alaska LNG Project, corporation leaders told legislators Oct. 16.

GUEST COMMENTARY: The benefits of Trump’s CSR decision

President Trump’s decision last week to cut cost-sharing reduction payments, or CSRs, has been widely panned by industry advocates concerned about the uncertainty the decision brings to the market.

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