State changes food stamp rules for “able-bodied adults without dependents”

first_imgShare this story: Economy | Food | Government | State GovernmentState changes food stamp rules for “able-bodied adults without dependents”August 3, 2015 by Zachariah Hughes, KSKA Share:In this letter dated June 24, 2015, the state Department of Health and Social Services informs food stamp recipients of changes to the program.A change in state policy will end access to food stamps for thousands of Alaskans.A letter sent out from the Division of Public Assistance on June 24th to all state residents receiving Food Stamps says “able-bodied adults without dependents” who do not meet the program’s work requirements will no longer be eligible three months into the new year.Most food stamp recipients will not be affected. The work requirements hit those who are between ages 18 and 49, do not have a noted disability status, and have no dependents.But the letter has left many worried they will lose important access to food.“We received… five, six calls just in the last week,” said Derrick Pennington, who works for the LINKS Mat-Su Parent Resource Center in Wasilla, although he added most of the clients he serves fall within the exempted categories.Still, Pennington said many feel unsure, “Folks who received the letter and are just really confused about whether or not their benefits are going to be impacted. ”Work requirements have been a contentious part of public assistance rules since a 1996 change to the federal laws. Alaska suspended the work requirements in 2004 because of high unemployment rates.The state’s Department of Health and Social Services has also fielded questions from concerned residents, according to Public Information Officer Sarana Schell. In an email, Schell wrote, “With improving economic conditions throughout the country, many states no longer qualify for these statewide waiver, including Alaska.”Officials have requested a waiver covering 28 borough and census areas, along with 155 Native villages where unemployment is 20 percent above the national average. The only area not covered by that request is Anchorage, where as many as 3,000 residents stand to be affected.Schell wrote the Public Assistance Director’s letter is intended to inform recipients about how to meet work requirements so as to keep as many people as possible qualified for the Food Stamps program.last_img read more

FBI charges Wasilla man in abduction of 2 North Pole children

first_imgCrime & Courts | Interior | Public SafetyFBI charges Wasilla man in abduction of 2 North Pole childrenAugust 10, 2015 by Zachariah Hughes, KSKA Share:FBI officials are asking members of the public with information about Michael D. Bowen Jr. to contact them. (Photo courtesy of the FBI)The Federal Bureau of Investigation in Alaska held a press conference Monday to discuss a child abduction case in North Pole. The rare move by the Bureau is an attempt to calm the public, and recruit them to help.In a second-floor conference room at the FBI’s Anchorage headquarters, Assistant Special Agent David Condo recapped the criminal complaint filed in the case of an alleged. Condo says that 40-year-old Michael D. Bowen Jr. of Wasilla stopped two sisters aged 9 and 7 on the afternoon of Saturday, August 1st.“Two-and-a-half hours after the girls had left home they returned, telling their parents they had been grabbed off their bikes by a man in a truck in front of the North Pole Middle School,” Condo read from a prepared statement ahead of questions.Agents say there is no evidence of abuse during the time Bowen allegedly kept the girls locked in the truck. According to the criminal complaint filed by the FBI, Bowen first denied being in the area where the abduction took place, though later admitted he’d taken the girls, thrown a cell phone out of the truck to prevent tracking, and told the girls “there would be no turning back.”“When asked why,” Condo told reporters, “he said he thought the girls were too young to be out on their own, and he wanted to teach the girls’ parents a lesson, and he said that he would do it again.”Law enforcement located Bowen based on extremely specific information the two children gave to officers, all the way down to the brand of sneakers their abductor wore, a ring on his finger, and a flag decorating the rear-view mirror of his Dodge pickup truck. Agents say the information was essential for coordinating with police in North Pole and other agencies trying to locate a suspect in the week after the girls were taken.Bowen faces two federal counts of kidnapping. The FBI only gets involved in abduction cases when local law enforcement requests their help. The last time that happened in Alaska was the investigation into a family of four–including two children–that went missing from Kenai in 2014. But Bureau agents want local partners to reach out more. According to Kurt Ormberg, supervisory agent for the Violent Crimes Squad, every year the FBI handles 100 to 150 “prototypical child abductions.”“Just under 50 percent end in a child’s death,” Ormberg said. “That’s why we take this as seriously as we do. We know that monsters do exist. They don’t have horns, they don’t have fangs, they look just like us–but they do exist. And telling our children that, I think, empowers them.”The FBI in Alaska rarely holds press conferences or comments on open investigations. But officials say that in this case they’re hoping to assure concerned North Pole residents the threat from this particular abduction is over. And that putting out details from the case may lead to more information coming from the public about Bowen.A request left with the U.S. Attorney’s Office about whether or not Bowen has legal representation was not immediately returned on Monday.Share this story:last_img read more

Alaska officials court Google’s driverless car industry

first_imgInterior | Science & Tech | State Government | TransportationAlaska officials court Google’s driverless car industryMarch 18, 2016 by Andrew Kitchenman, KTOO and Alaska Public Media Share:A row of Google’s self-driving cars spotted Oct. 2, 2015. (Creative Commons photo by Alan)It may be awhile before ice road truckers become ice road computers, but one of Google’s top lobbyists was in Juneau on Thursday to talk about driverless cars.Google state legislative affairs representative Ron Barnes wouldn’t commit to bringing autonomous vehicles to the Alaska anytime soon, saying Google’s engineers determine where the company tests its cars.“We keep a list of places everywhere that might be somewhere we would need, but the engineering needs drive really where we go right now,” Barnes said. “And what new information do we need in order to make the software, make the cars more robust and their ability to handle driving scenarios.”Barnes’ visit gave Fairbanks Economic Development Corp. project manager Jomo Stewart a chance to pitch the state as the ideal place for Google to test cars in cold weather conditions.“Cold can be a real challenge, but it also can be an opportunity,” Stewart said, adding his agency promotes Fairbanks as “the most accessible, reliable and affordable place in the U.S. to do cold-weather testing.”Palmer Republican Rep. Shelley Hughes said the state can be ahead of the curve in planning for driverless cars.“There’s an opportunity. Right now, they have to work out how to manage those on ice and snow,” Hughes said. “I believe that if we can open the door to these kind of things – every bit and piece – that’s going to be a multi-billion dollar industry. If Alaska can just get a sliver of that economic pie, that will be good.”Google’s driverless cars have driven more than 1 million miles on roads in California, as well as pilot projects in Austin, Texas, and Kirkland, Washington.Share this story:last_img read more

Former KFSK volunteer show host, former mayor remembered as ‘a happy guy’

first_imgEnergy & Mining | Local Government | SoutheastFormer KFSK volunteer show host, former mayor remembered as ‘a happy guy’August 11, 2016 by Angela Denning, KFSK Share:well-known Petersburg resident and former mayor Al Dwyer, 74, died Friday, Aug. 5, 2016, due to health complications. (KFSK)Friends and family remember a well-known Petersburg resident and former mayor as a “happy guy.”Al Dwyer, 74, died Friday, Aug. 5, 2016, due to health complications.Dwyer had been in and out of the hospital over the last five years.He had three strokes and later heart problems. His family were surprised when doctors found just last week that he had pancreatic cancer.Even though he had health issues for a while he was still all over town volunteering for various things.“He was happy, he was a happy guy,” said Sally Dwyer, his wife of 40 years.Long-time KFSK listeners have undoubtedly heard the song, “Chantilly Lace.” It’s the signature opening song to Al Dwyer’s volunteer show.He volunteered at the radio station regularly for more a decade.KFSK was only one of the many ways he volunteered in Petersburg.“He just was full of community,” Sally said.Sally Dwyer is why Al came to Petersburg in the first place back in 1977.Originally from Boston, he moved to Alaska to work on the pipeline as an electrician. That’s where he met Sally. She brought him back to Petersburg where they were married the same year.Within a few years he started working for the city as a building official.In 1981 he was hired by the State of Alaska as the Electrical Inspector for Southeast, a job he held for nearly 10 years until he was promoted to assistant chief and then chief.He and Sally moved to Juneau and Anchorage with those promotions.Then, former Gov. Tony Knowles made Dwyer the director of labor standards and safety for the department of labor, which he did for six years. In that role, he oversaw three divisions: Occupational Health and Safety Administration, Wage an Hour and Mechanical Inspection.“He was one of the few guys that in 20 years had worked his way up by the time he retired. There weren’t many of them that did that,” Sally Dwyer said. “They were usually political appointees and Al was one of the few guys that actually worked in the trenches that was made a director.”Sally said he had 85 employees working under him. That’s the same number of neckties she says they gave away when he retired from the state in 2000. They moved back to Petersburg the follow year.Dwyer spent the last 15 years in Petersburg being active and involved in the community. He was the mayor for five years.He resigned in the middle of his third term after suffering from repeated strokes.“His proudest moment as mayor was getting public smoking banned,” Sally said. “Because of employee health that’s the angle they took but that was one of his proudest crowning moments.”He stayed an active member of the Sons of Norway for 37 years and is a past president of the organization.He was involved with the Elks and the Moose Lodges and Beat the Odds, a cancer support group.He was a member of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) for more than 50 years.Being an electrician was a family thing, Sally said.“His dad was an electrician, five of his brothers, his two sons, 20 of his nephews, I mean it’s an electrical family,” she said.Although they were electricians by trade, Dwyer’s family members were also musicians. Al played the piano and the guitar.“His whole family was musical and are musical,” Sally said. “The kids, his sons are both singers, his grandson’s a rapper. Everybody in the family when he was growing up, he was the youngest of 14 kids, all but one tone deaf brother, everybody sang.“Al had a beautiful Irish baritone,” she said. “And his brother Eddie had a beautiful Irish tenor and they were called the two singers in the family. But everybody else sung harmony with them and his mom was an amateur singer in Boston.”Al played the piano at home almost every day, She said. He also played the piano at Petersburg’s Long Term Care and Assisted Living facilities.Al is survived by his wife, Sally, three children-two sons and a daughter-eight grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.The funeral will be next 3 p.m. Wednesday, August 17, at the Lutheran Church. It will be an ecumenical service representing different Christian churches.A reception will follow at the Sons of Norway Hall. It is not a potluck.There will also be a rosary at the St. Catherine’s Catholic Church at 7 p.m. Tuesday, August 16.Share this story:last_img read more

Richardson Highway tank spill totals more than 3,500 gallons

first_imgEnergy & Mining | Environment | Interior | WildlifeRichardson Highway tank spill totals more than 3,500 gallonsSeptember 7, 2016 by Tim Ellis, KUAC-Fairbanks Share:Investigators say multiple punctures enabled most of the 5,000 gallons of diesel fuel in this tanker to quickly leak out after it overturned Monday near the intersection of Lost Lake Road and the Richardson Highway. (Photo courtesy of Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation)Cleanup work continues today near Birch Lake where a tractor-trailer tank loaded with 5,000 gallons of diesel fuel overturned Monday, spilling the fuel into a ditch that runs between a small wetland and the Richardson Highway.The workers are trying to keep fuel from seeping into the wetland or the lake.Alaska state environmental officials say a fuel spill from an overturned fuel tank off the Richardson Highway totaled more than 3,500 gallons, the Associated Press reported.The Department of Environmental Conservation said Wednesday the cleanup continues at mile 306 of the highway, where the accident involving the Big State Logistics tank occurred Monday afternoon.Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation on-site coordinator Tom DeRuyter said workers Tuesday suctioned just more than 11,000 gallons of fuel-and-water mix from a ditch just south of the roadside pulloff to the Birch Lake State Recreation Site.they also plugged some culverts that runs under that stretch of the Richardson Highway to prevent contaminated water from flowing in to Birch Lake, DeRuyter said.“No oil has been seen on the lake,” he said Tuesday afternoon. “Is there oil infiltrating underneath the roadway? I suspect there is.”Workers pushed up dirt berms to limit fuel from flowing into the wetland. He says the marshy area sits a bit higher than the lake, so he thinks the fuel is more likely to flow downgradient in the other direction.“It all goes toward the lake,” he said, “and that’s why the culverts are plugged and … we’re watching those to make sure no oil gets into the culvert system.”Tests will be conducted to determine whether diesel leaked into the wetland or lake. DeRuyter said the first priority is removing fuel and contaminated soil, which is why workers began building a roadway Tuesday to enable equipment to get in to the area to begin excavating.“We still have pure fuel that’s leaking out of the vegetative mat and is forming pools on-site,” he said. “We need to get rid of that and the heavily contaminated soil and the vegetation that’s hold the oil and allowing it to leak out slowly. And that’s really the first step in this process.”DEC and Alaska State Troopers both are investigating the spill and the equipment failure that apparently led to it.Troopers say there were no injuries.DEC says it hasn’t received any reports of wildlife being affected by the fuel.A Trooper spokesperson couldn’t yet provide specifics, but said it appears the driver was not speeding.Photos taken by DEC show what appeared to be jagged edges around the tip of the tongue that connected the rear tank to the tanker truck – which was carrying another 9,000 gallons of diesel.Troopers said the Big State Logistics tanker was just rounding the bend of the long curve along the southern shore of Birch Lake about 1 p.m. Monday when somehow the trailer in tow broke loose, hit the ditch and overturned.ADEC said the tank had multiple punctures and that most if not all of the 5,000 gallons of diesel in the tank quickly leaked out.Mark Lockwood says he saw the tanker approach as he was sitting in his truck at the intersection of Lost Lake Road, waiting to get onto the highway and get back to Fairbanks.“The fuel truck got past me,” he said, “I looked again, nobody was coming, pulled out. And the fuel truck was pulling over to the side of the road – sans trailer, and a hitch dangling. And so I just missed seeing that happen.”A DEC news release says crews and equipment will be working around the cleanup site today, and that flaggers will be controlling traffic along that stretch of the highway around milepost 306.Share this story:last_img read more

Oil and energy company Caelus announces big oil find on North Slope

first_imgEconomy | Energy & Mining | North Slope | Oceans | State GovernmentOil and energy company Caelus announces big oil find on North SlopeOctober 4, 2016 by Liz Ruskin, Alaska Public Media Share:Oil and energy company Caelus Energy said it’s made a major oil discovery on the North Slope, at Smith Bay.The company estimates the oil under its current state leases at 6 billion barrels and said as much as 10 billion may lie under the shallow bay.“It’s going to be a massive development,” Caelus CEO Jim Musselman said. “Very important for the state of the Alaska, and it’s going to create, you know, thousands of jobs.”Musselman said two wells drilled this year, sidewall core samples and 3-D seismic work suggest a large reservoir of light oil in good rock.“And we have the same fan complexes under each well, so that gives us courage that the fan extends over this big area,” Musselman said.Production is years away.The company says the development could eventually boost the amount of oil going down the Trans-Alaska Pipeline by about 200,000 barrels per day, an increase of nearly 40 percent over current daily averages.Musselman said, the light oil will help cut sludge, improving the pipeline’s flow.The CEO estimates the cost of the project at $8 billion to $10 billion. He’s confident he can get financing if the price of oil goes up to at least $65 a barrel. State tax credits are also important, he said.“We can in fact help with their fiscal crisis going forward if they’ll help us, and I think that’s all we’re looking for,” Musselman said.This summer, Gov. Bill Walker vetoed oil tax credits worth $430 million, saying the state couldn’t afford to pay so much to oil companies.Smith Bay is between Barrow and Prudhoe Bay.The Caelus leases are in state waters, offshore of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.Share this story:last_img read more

DOJ: ‘Severely Deficient Training’ Has Led To Pattern Of Abuse By Chicago Police

first_imgNational News | NPR News | Public SafetyDOJ: ‘Severely Deficient Training’ Has Led To Pattern Of Abuse By Chicago PoliceJanuary 14, 2017 by Rebecca Hersher, NPR News Share:The Justice Department says an investigation has found Chicago police are systematically violating the civil rights of people in the city through excessive use of force, poor oversight and inadequate training of officers.U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the investigation’s findings on Friday, saying the DOJ had concluded there was ample evidence the Chicago Police Department “engages in a pattern or practice of the use of excessive force,” in violation of the Fourth Amendment.The abuse is most prevalent in the predominantly black neighborhoods on Chicago’s South and West sides. The report cited numerous examples of unreasonable force, such as kicking a subject who “balled his fists” and using a Taser against a suspect fleeing the scene of a “minor property crime.”Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Vanita Gupta, who leads the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said the investigation had found that officers shot people who presented no clear threat and “tased” people who did not follow orders.Lynch said the city and the DOJ had agreed to enter negotiations about a court-enforced consent decree to guide reform within the police department. A federal judge also would need to sign off on any final agreement before it would go into effect.The Justice Department’s “pattern or practice” investigation was launched more than a year ago, after a white police officer shot a black teenager named Laquan McDonald 16 times in October 2014, killing the 17-year-old youth.Under court order in November 2015, the city released police dashcam video of the killing, prompting protests by activists who said the city had tried to cover up the shooting.The police officer, Jason Van Dyke, has been charged with murder and is facing trial. The department has moved to fire Van Dyke, as well as four other police officers for allegedly lying about the shooting.Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel apologized for the killing and the handling of the video. “That happened on my watch,” Emanuel said in December 2015, and he promised a “complete and total reform of the system,” as The Two-Way reported.While the state court system is handling Van Dyke’s individual case, the purpose of the Justice Department review was to investigate how such incidents reflected the larger culture and practices within the entire department.Federal investigators said Friday that they had interviewed hundreds of people and combed through data about use of force and how the police department held those officers who used excessive force accountable.In September, U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon said the investigation had grown into the largest such probe ever undertaken by federal authorities, according to The Chicago Tribune.It was unclear what immediate effect, if any, Friday’s announcement would have on the day-to-day practices of the Chicago Police Department. As the Tribune noted, “It will be months before a consent decree would be worked out and filed in federal court.”Police departments have operated under consent decrees in cities ranging from Ferguson, Mo., to Newark, N.J., and just this week, Baltimore announced the details of a consent decree with its police department.Under President Obama, the Justice Department has increased the number of civil rights investigations into law enforcement practices, as Bloomberg has reported. But President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to become the next U.S attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has indicated he does not support consent decrees.At a Senate confirmation hearing Tuesday, Sessions said DOJ investigations into police departments “can undermine respect for police officers.” He added, “I think there’s concern that good police officers and good departments can be sued by the Department of Justice when you just have individuals within a department who have done wrong, and those individuals need to be prosecuted.”In a 2008 policy paper on consent decrees, Sessions described the agreements as “one of the most dangerous, and rarely discussed, exercises of raw power” and said that “in practice, a decree can last for many years — longer than the remedy that was needed.”Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit this story:last_img read more

NSA to limit some collection of internet communication

first_imgFederal Government | Nation & World | National News | NPR News | Public Safety | Science & TechNSA to limit some collection of internet communicationApril 29, 2017 by Philip Ewing, NPR News Share:The National Security Administration (NSA) campus in Fort Meade, Md. Patrick Semansky/APThe National Security Agency is scaling back the way it spies on some communications over the Internet.The NSA says it discovered what it called “lapses” in compliance with U.S. law.They’re called “about” communications: The NSA not only watches messages traveling to and from a foreign target, but those that mention one.That can mean the NSA sometimes sweeps up data from Americans without a warrant. In the past, officials said the spy agency was still mindful of citizens’ privacy.But now NSA says it has discovered “several inadvertent compliance lapses,” which it reported to Congress and a secret court that oversees intelligence gathering.There aren’t many more details, but the NSA now says it will, quote, “stop the practice to reduce the chance that it would acquire communications of U.S. persons or others who are not in direct contact with a foreign intelligence target.”Here’s the full statement from the NSA:NSA Stops Certain Foreign Intelligence Collection Activities Under Section 702The National Security Agency is instituting several changes in the way it collects information under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.Section 702, set to expire at the end of this year, allows the Intelligence Community to conduct surveillance on only specific foreign targets located outside the United States to collect foreign intelligence, including intelligence needed in the fight against international terrorism and cyber threats.NSA will no longer collect certain internet communications that merely mention a foreign intelligence target. This information is referred to in the Intelligence Community as “about” communications in Section 702 “upstream” internet surveillance. Instead, NSA will limit such collection to internet communications that are sent directly to or from a foreign target.Even though NSA does not have the ability at this time to stop collecting “about” information without losing some other important data, the Agency will stop the practice to reduce the chance that it would acquire communications of U.S. persons or others who are not in direct contact with a foreign intelligence target.Finally, even though the Agency was legally allowed to retain such “about” information previously collected under Section 702, the NSA will delete the vast majority of its upstream internet data to further protect the privacy of U.S. person communications.The changes in policy followed an in-house review of Section 702 activities in which NSA discovered several inadvertent compliance lapses.NSA self-reported the incidents to both Congress and the FISC, as it is required to do. Following these reports, the FISC issued two extensions as NSA worked to fix the problems before the government submitted a new application for continued Section 702 certification. The FISC recently approved the changes after an extensive review.The Agency’s efforts are part of its commitment to continuous improvement as we work to keep the nation safe. NSA has a solemn responsibility and duty to do our work exactly right while carrying out our critical mission.Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit this story:last_img read more

White Pass railroad company wants 20 more years on lease to make way for urgent Skagway port improvements

first_imgLocal Government | Southeast | Tourism | TransportationWhite Pass railroad company wants 20 more years on lease to make way for urgent Skagway port improvementsJuly 5, 2017 by Emily Files, KHNS-Haines Share:Cruise ships dock in Skagway’s port. (Photo by Emily Files/KHNS)The private company that controls more than half Skagway’s port wants a 20-year lease extension in order to make way for pressing waterfront improvements.Audio Player Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.White Pass and Yukon Route Railroad is a major tourist attraction in Skagway. Since 1968, it has controlled a significant portion of Skagway’s tidelands and uplands through a lease with the city.White Pass gave the municipality a new lease extension proposal this June.The offer is preliminary. White Pass and municipal officials are at the beginning of negotiations.White Pass President John Finlayson said the potential contract would continue a “great partnership.”“If you look at the last 25 years, the town’s economy has experienced unprecedented growth,” Finlayson said. “I think a lot of that has to do with White Pass’ investment.”Finlayson shared the entirety of the new proposal with KHNS on Monday. He agreed to release the document following a borough Assembly meeting in which some key details were revealed publicly.White Pass’s offer is broken into three parts: an amendment to the current tidelands lease, a new lease picking up after the original expires, and an environmental remediation agreement.These new contracts are on the table about two years after voters rejected a 35-year lease extension.The situation has become more critical since then.In two years, larger cruise ships will sail to Alaska. Skagway could miss out on a significant share of the market if it doesn’t renovate its port to accommodate the vessels.Skagway Mayor Mark Schaefer supported the 2015 lease that was thrown out by voters.“It’ll be a miracle if we don’t lose this boat, it really will be,” Schaefer said. “When we do lose it, its not gonna be such a fun time I don’t think.”There are a few key differences between the 2015 proposal and the new one:Length of the lease: White Pass is asking for a new, 20-year lease following the expiration of the current contract in 2023.At a recent meeting, Assembly member Orion Hanson suggested the municipality try to negotiate the term down to 15 years, so that the agreement would end in 2038.Clear the way for an estimated $15 million floating addition to the ore dock: This is perhaps the most urgent piece of infrastructure. Skagway’s ability to welcome larger cruise ships hinges on it. White Pass proposes it take the lead on building the floating dock, while splitting the cost 50/50 with the municipality.Finlayson said the railroad building the infrastructure is simply more expedient than the government taking it on. The railroad needs a lease extension in order to move forward with the ore dock modification.The annual rent payments: Right now, White Pass pays the city about $130,000 per year. The company suggests raising that to $200,000 annually. That offer is lower than the 2015 proposal. Those proposed payments started at $250,000 and increased to $400,000 over the 35-year period.Hanson has suggested negotiating those numbers up to $250,000 at the start of the lease, increasing by $50,000 every five years.The rent payments are key in terms of whether this lease will need to go to a public vote. Skagway code stipulates that any lease worth $5 million or more must go to the voters for approval. White Pass’ proposal doesn’t reach the $5 million mark this time.Hanson advocated for a public vote once the city and White Pass are done negotiating.“I didn’t feel totally comfortable that we could execute this without a vote,” Hanson said. “And I think voting is one of the most important things we have as Americans.”Schaefer and Finlayson say they worry about how a referendum would affect the tight timeline.Port consultant Moffatt & Nichol has said that if the city wants to have a floating dock in place by the time bigger ships arrive in 2019, they’ll need to start design and permitting work by late summer or early fall.Unlike the 2015 lease proposal, White Pass is looking to separate environmental remediation from the rest of the contract.Skagway’s ore basin is polluted with decades-old contamination.The railroad proposes paying $2.5 million and the municipality chipping in $1.5 million toward an estimated $4 million cleanup. If it costs more, the two parties would meet and decide how to split the cost.Finlayson said White Pass’ contribution to remediation is contingent on the lease extension.There are some things that have not changed between the 2015 and 2017 proposals.White Pass would give up a significant portion of the lands it leases, only retaining control over the areas directly beneath the ore dock and Broadway dock.Cruise ships berth at both facilities.The municipality and White Pass would share the ore dock, with the railroad getting cruise revenue and the city getting revenue from industrial and other uses.The Assembly is set to discuss the lease proposal at its meeting this Thursday. From there, negotiations are likely to continue.Share this story:last_img read more

No oil companies oppose bonds for tax credits, commissioner says

first_imgEconomy | Energy & Mining | North Slope | Southcentral | State GovernmentNo oil companies oppose bonds for tax credits, commissioner saysApril 23, 2018 by Andrew Kitchenman, KTOO and Alaska Public Media Share:Alaska Commissioner of Revenue Sheldon Fisher testifies before the House Finance Committee, April 23, 2018. The committee was taking comments on House Bill 331, introduced at the request of Gov. Bill Walker. If passed, the bill would allow the state to sell bonds in order to pay tax credits to oil companies. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)A bill that would use bonds to pay off the state’s debt to oil and gas companies for tax credits has raised a question from lawmakers: are the companies interested?Revenue Commissioner Sheldon Fisher provided the House Finance Committee an answer Monday, saying most of the companies are on board with the idea.“So far, no one has informed us that they do not intend to participate,” he said. “They’ve either informed us that they want to participate – which is far and away the majority – (or) there’s a handful of companies that have said they’re still thinking about it and want to get back to us.”The state owes the companies more than $800 million in tax credits.House Bill 331 would allow it to pay them off quickly.The state would receive a discount of roughly 10 cents on the dollar, to cover the cost of issuing the bonds.State payments for the credits slowed as oil prices fell. But companies have said the delayed payments have hurt development.One company that is especially interested is Caelus Energy. It has $180 million in tax credits owed it.Caelus Vice President Pat Foley said it would be a win for the state and investors if the bill passes.“We do have loans against a substantial portion of that,” Foley said of the credits. “We’d be in a position to pay off those loans and most importantly we’d be in a position to attract additional investment … to allow us to go ahead with full speed at Nuna and hopefully we’d be in position to drill an additional appraisal well out in Smith Bay.”Lawyers for the state have different opinions about whether the bill would withstand a legal challenge.The Department of Law said the bill is constitutional. But an attorney who advises the Legislature has questioned its constitutionality, because the constitution limits how the state can issue bonds.The House Finance Committee will hear public testimony on the bill Tuesday.Share this story:last_img read more