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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
November 02, 2017

Front Page Feature Photo By ADAM BREMER

Moira Sound Sunrise
Front Page Feature Photo By ADAM BREMER ©2017

Ketchikan: Cougars in Alaska By Riley Woodford - Every few years Fish and Game gets a report of a cougar sighting in Alaska. In October 2017 a woman reported seeing what she thought was a cougar in Ketchikan. Alaska is considered to be outside the range of cougars (also called mountain lions and panthers), but with cougar populations increasing in many western states and Canada, that could change. - Read this Alaska Fish & Wildlife News artilcle
November 2017

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:Oil & Gas Production in the Coastal Plain Could Generate Billions for Federal Government By MARY KAUFFMAN - U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) today chaired a hearing focused on the potential for oil and gas development in the non-wilderness portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), known as the “1002 Area” or Coastal Plain, to meet the $1 billion budget reconciliation instruction the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee received last week in H. Con. Res. 71.

Oil & Gas Production in the Coastal Plain Could Generate Billions for Federal Government

Map of northern Alaska showing locations of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR), the 1002 area, and the National Petroleum Reserve—Alaska (NPRA).

The Senate Amendment to H. Con. Res. 71 established the federal budget for fiscal year 2018 and the budget levels for fiscal years 2019-2027. The amendment also includedreconciliation instructions for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the House Natural Resources Committee to achieve $1 billion in savings over the Fiscal Year 2018 to 2027 period.

According to the House Committee on Resources, opening less than 3% of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) in Alaska for responsible energy production could create thousands of jobs, and generate approximately $150 billion to $296 billion in new federal revenue. And according to Alaska Governor Bill Walker, over the potential 40-plus year life of the basin, $175 billion dollars in royalty and tax revenues for Alaska.

Murkowski opened the hearing by emphasizing that the 1002 Area is not federal wilderness, and separate from the wilderness in ANWR. In 1980, Congress specifically designated the 1002 Area for consideration for oil and gas exploration. Today, some Alaskans are asking to develop just 2,000 federal acres within it – about one ten-thousandth of all of ANWR. Murkowski explained that limited, responsible development would generate new wealth and prosperity for Alaska and the nation, among many other substantial economic benefits.  

“Opening the 1002 Area to responsible oil and gas development will create thousands of new jobs, and those jobs will pay the types of wages that support families and put our kids through college,said Murkowski. “It will also generate tens of billions of dollars in revenues over the life of the fields for every level of government.”

Murkowski also explained how the environmental footprint of development on Alaska’s North Slope has shrunken dramatically since Prudhoe Bay began operations in the 1970s, and the stringent standards that Alaskans have put in place to protect local wildlife.

“The Central Arctic caribou herd, which lives year-round in and around Prudhoe Bay, is now more than seven times larger than when development began,” said Murkowski. “For over 40 years now, Alaskans have repeatedly proven that we can develop safely and responsibly, and development in the 1002 Area will be no different. We will not harm the caribou; or the polar bears, whose dens can be protected; or the snow geese, whose nesting areas can be safeguarded; or any of the other birds and wildlife that visit the Coastal Plain in the summer.” 

Between the 1970s and today, the surface footprint of Arctic development decreased by about 80 percent. What was once a 65-acre pad now takes up 12 acres or less. Below ground, extended reach drilling from a single pad will grow to an area of 125 square miles by 2020—an increase of more than 4,000 percent from the 1970s. 

U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Congressman Don Young (R-AK), and Alaska Gov. Bill Walker provided opening statements about the economic and national security benefits of opening the 1002 Area to responsible development.

“Opening the small section of the 1002 area in ANWR for development will strengthen our national security,” said Sullivan, who has been a Marine for 24 years, a former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State, and sits on the Senate Armed Services Committee. “When we don’t have to import energy from countries that don’t like us, or better yet, when we can export American energy to our allies like Japan and Korea, or even a country like China, this helps our national security and foreign policy.”

In a move that caught the attention of lawmakers and attendees, Young drew a dot on the tip of his nose to illustrate the size of surface impact in comparison to the greater ANWR area.

“You see anything different on my nose right now,” Young asked the panel.“I am Alaska. One tenth of one tenth percent is what we’re talking about in disturbance…This little dot on my nose – I weigh 225 lbs. – this little dot is what we’re talking about in surface impact in the 1002 Area. That’s a potential for approximately – early estimates were 10 billion barrels – and now estimates are probably around 20 billion barrels of oil.”

“Using the Energy Information Administration’s projections for the price of oil and USGS’s resource estimate for ANWR, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (DNR) estimates that oil production from federal lands in the 1002 Area will generate $175 billion dollars in royalty and tax revenues for Alaska over the potential 40-plus year life of the basin,” said Governor Bill Walker.      

“Alaska’s economic future should not be a partisan issue,” said Governor Walker, the nation’s only independent governor. “Nine in 10 of Alaska’s legislators—on both sides of the aisle—support oil and gas exploration and development of the 1002. The trans-Alaska pipeline is three-quarters empty, and the state is suffering the largest fiscal crisis in our history. When Alaska became a state, we had a promise from the federal government in our statehood compact: we need to live off the resources in our land. Much like midwestern states harvest the resources that grow on the ground, like wheat and corn, Alaska must harvest the resources in our ground. As Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has so aptly said: Alaska is key to the nation’s energy dominance. We must have access to our resources,” said Walker.     

The committee also received testimony from Alaskans who strongly oppose opening the 1002 Area: Lois Epstein PE (PDF), Arctic Program Director, The Wilderness Society; and Sam Alexander (PDF), speaking on behalf of the Gwich’in Nation.

The Gwich’in are the northernmost Indian Nation, living in fifteen small villages scattered across an area extending from northeast Alaska in the United States into the northern Yukon and Northwest Territories in Canada. These communities include Arctic Village, Venetie, Fort Yukon, Beaver, Chalkyitsik, Birch Creek, Stevens Village, Circle, and Eagle Village in Alaska, and Old Crow, Fort McPherson, Tsiigehtchic, Aklavik, and Inuvik in Canada. The home of the Gwich’in People follows the migratory route of the Porcupine Caribou Herd which sustains their way of life. - More...
Thursday PM - November 02, 2017

USDA Contractor of the Year awarded to Ketchikan Ready Mix and Quarry

Beth Pendleton, Harold Enright, Tammy Carroll, Loren Enright, Morgan Enright, and Contracting Officer Mari Meiners.
Photo by Paul Robbins Jr.

Ketchikan: USDA Contractor of the Year awarded to Ketchikan Ready Mix and Quarry - The United States Forest Service nominated, and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) selected, Ketchikan Ready Mix and Quarry (KRMQ) as the United States Department of Agriculture HUBZone Contractor of the Year for 2017.

The USDA award program celebrates the accomplishments of small businesses, individuals, and groups. The program encourages economic development in historically utilized business zones – of which Ketchikan, Alaska is one. 

Located in Ketchikan, KRMQ is owned by the Enright family and has been in the business of performing construction, concrete and gravel services in Southeast Alaska since 1994. - More...
Thursday PM - November 02, 2017

Alaska: Alaskans Eligible for Unemployment Insurance Extended Benefits - Up to 13 weeks of extended benefits will be available to eligible workers receiving Unemployment Insurance benefits beginning the week of November 5, 2017.

Alaska’s unemployment rate controls when extended benefits are available, and the U.S. Department of Labor has determined that Alaska’s current unemployment rate of 7.2% triggers these additional benefits. Unemployed workers who exhaust their regular Unemployment Insurance benefits after 16 to 26 weeks may be eligible for an additional 8 to 13 weeks of benefits. Funding for extended benefit payments is split equally between the state’s Unemployment Insurance trust fund and the federal government.

The Alaska Division of Employment and Training Services, which administers the Unemployment Insurance program, will notify potentially eligible workers by mail. Individuals with remaining balances of regular Unemployment Insurance will continue to draw out their benefits until exhaustion. Upon exhaustion, workers will be able to submit an application for extended benefits to be eligible for continued payment. - More...
Thursday PM - November 02, 2017

Coast Guard assists boaters aboard disabled vessel near Ketchikan - A Coast Guard boatcrew assisted two people Thursday aboard a disabled 21-foot Boston Whaler on the west side of Clarence Strait near Moira Sound near Ketchikan.

Coast Guard assists boaters aboard disabled vessel near Ketchikan

A Coast Guard Station Ketchikan 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew arrives on scene to assist a disabled 21-foot Boston Whaler with two people aboard on Moira Sound, Alaska, Nov. 2, 2017. The boatcrew embarked the two and took them to Thomas Basin.
U.S. Coast Guard photo.

A Coast Guard Station Ketchikan 45-foot Response Boat-Medium crew transported the vessel's passengers to Thomas Basin. The two people reported no medical concerns or injuries.

“These boaters filed a float plan with a friend that provided vital information in order to locate them in a quick manner,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Nicholas Santos, a Station Ketchikan crew member. “The prompt notification by the friend helped our crew locate these boaters and take them to safety.” - More...
Thursday PM - November 02, 2017

Alaska: State files lawsuit against one maker of OxyContin - As part of the State’s ongoing efforts in battling Alaska’s opioid crisis, Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth filed a lawsuit Tuesday against Purdue Pharma, the maker of the opioid OxyContin. The lawsuit alleges that Purdue used deceptive practices in violation of state consumer protection laws, such as promoting the use of OxyContin for long-term chronic pain when there was little evidence to support it.

“Alaska’s opioid crisis directly impacts people’s lives,” said Governor Bill Walker. “We have people becoming criminals to feed their habits. We have grandparents having to take care of grandchildren because the parents have fallen into the spiral of addiction or worse, have died from an over-dose. And the worst part is a lot of these people would have never become addicts without that initial prescription that went on too long.”

“We need to put a stop to these deceptive practices that are endangering people’s lives,” said Attorney General Lindemuth. “Pharmaceutical companies, like Purdue, need to be held accountable when they mislead providers and the public about how their drugs should be used.”

The Attorney General’s Office hired the firm Motley Rice on a contingency fee basis this summer to investigate whether any manufacturers or distributors of opioids had violated state consumer protection laws. - More...
Thursday PM - November 02, 2017


Alaska Science:
When Jerry Brown came to Nome By NED ROZELL - A few Alaska researchers recently accepted a surprise assignment of giving Jerry Brown a tour of the Seward Peninsula.

When Jerry Brown came to Nome

Bob Bolton, Anne Gust Brown,  California Gov. Jerry Brown, Lydia Vaughn and Amy Breen
Photo by Evan Westrup

The California governor was stopping in Nome on his way to a meeting in Russia. The 79-year-old environmentalist and leader of a state that resembles a progressive nation wanted to learn why the far north matters. He had never been to the Arctic or Alaska before.

Amy Breen and Bob Bolton were his tour guides and educators. Both work on the Seward Peninsula; Breen is a terrestrial ecologist who works with tundra plants, and Bolton is a hydrologist who specializes in the interaction of the peninsula’s frozen ground with its many waterways. Both work at the International Arctic Research Center, part of the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

On Labor Day weekend, Bolton and Breen traveled to Nome. Breen texted her contact with the governor’s traveling party, which had just landed in Nome aboard a jet. Breen indicated she and Bolton were staying in a hotel with a bar and would be there the rest of the night if Brown wanted to meet before their tour the next morning.

“In a few minutes, we turned around and saw the governor, his wife and their entourage walk in,” Breen said.

For the next few hours, Bolton sat on a stool next to the California governor and in rapid-fire fashion discussed subjects that often circled back to Brown’s two top concerns: nuclear disarmament and climate change.

Breen chatted with Brown’s wife Anne Gust Brown. Thinking of the next day’s field trip, Breen mentioned she carries a handgun for bear protection.

“They told me I was the first person who ever asked to carry a handgun while I was with the governor,” Breen said. “She pointed behind us and said, ‘I don’t think those guys over there will allow it.’” - More...
Thursday PM - November 02, 2017


Columns - Commentary


jpg Michael Reagan

MICHAEL REAGAN: Cut Taxes, Reagan-style - What hasn't happened this week?

It started on Monday with special counsel Robert Mueller's opening round of indictments, chief of which were charges of fraud and money laundering against Donald Trump's former campaign manager and shifty big-time lobbyist, Paul Manafort.

The charges against Manafort, which predate his three-month stint with the Trump campaign in summer of 2016, made headlines but were no surprise to anyone, especially me. (I had been telling people for years that Manafort was dirty, but unfortunately no one doing the hiring in Trumpland took my advice.)

Then on Tuesday afternoon came the horrible news of the attack by an Isis-connected terrorist who used a rented truck to murder eight people on a bike path in New York City.

Mueller's indictments and the terror tragedy both overshadowed what should have been the big news of this week -- President Trump's big push for a massive tax reform bill.

But on Thursday Republicans in the House unveiled the first draft of their "Tax Cuts and Job Act" -- all 429 pages of it.

It's still horribly complicated, full of politically controversial features and debatable deductions, and liable to be rewritten as early this weekend.

There are far too many politicians and interest groups pulling and pushing and whining for their special deals â€' whether it's the home builders and real estate people complaining that it would hurt homeowners or Senator Rubio moaning about the insufficient hike in the child tax credit. - More...
Thursday PM - November 02, 2017

jpg Tom Purcell

TOM PURCELL: GOP Congress Must Remember Why It Was Elected - "I've never seen anything quite like it," said a political-insider friend of mine as we sipped coffee.

"What is it?" I said.

"Several members of the Republican-controlled House and Senate are suffering from a rare form of memory loss. Until recently, I fear, they completely forgot why they were elected."

"Explain, please."

"When Republicans took over the House in 2011, they did so because the majority of Americans were fed up with ObamaCare, wasteful spending and a federal government that was running amok. They wanted the Republican House to thwart President Obama's policies."

"I remember the 2010 election well," I said.

"During the 2014 election, the Republicans took back the Senate because the majority of American people were fed up with ObamaCare, wasteful spending and a federal government that was running amok. They wanted the Republican Senate to work with the Republican House to overturn Obama's polices."

"There was a sense of great hope at that time," I said.

"Then in 2016, despite several 'expert' predictions that Hillary Clinton would become America's first female president, Donald Trump was elected. That's because the people in most U.S. states wanted to repeal and replace ObamaCare, get federal spending under control and overturn Obama's policies - including many executive orders that many considered presidential overreach at best and unconstitutional at worst." - More...
Thursday PM - November 02, 2017

jpg Political Cartoon: Hillary Hung Out

Political Cartoon: Hillary Hung Out
By Rick McKee ©2017, The Augusta Chronicle
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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Opinion - Letter

150 years of the Army in Alaska By Capt. Richard Packer - I recently attended the 150-year commemoration of the transfer of Alaska, previously known as Russian America, from tsarist Russia to the United States. The original ceremony occurred in Sitka (New Archangel while under Russian rule) on October 18, 1867, and just like the modern ceremony, the U.S. Army was present for the first ceremony. - More....
Thursday PM - November 02, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Governor Walker’s Tax Proposal Would Create a Regressive Nightmare By Ghert Abbott - Governor Walker is right to champion a broad-based tax, as the only alternative to new revenue is the continued depletion of our state’s savings and further cuts to education, public health, law enforcement, and infrastructure. However, it is essential that any broad-based tax be fairly distributed and take into consideration the sacrifices that ordinary Alaskans have already made with the halving of the PFD. - More...
Thursday PM - November 02, 2017

Opinion - Letter

TAX POLICY IN THE LAND OF OZ By David G Hanger - I realize that only you, the Christian ayatollahs and mullahs of Ketchikan, and your inordinate knowledge and profundity gleaned only in some instances from divinity or seminary school, are the true arbiters of speech, thought, association, and fact, on any subject under the sun, and that you and your spies will continue working in the dark to ensure no one regresses from your expected norm. - More...
Thursday PM - November 02, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Hunting Regulations By Chas Edwardson - Recently I asked on this forum if anyone has heard about stricter hunting regulations for non federally qualified hunters on Prince of Wales Island. - More...
Thursday PM - November 02, 2017

Opinion - Letter

RE: It’s Past Time to Achieve Parity Regarding State Education Funding By Chris Elliott - Mr. Bockhorst hits the nail on the head. - Finis...
Thursday PM - November 02, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Lost fortunes and other dividend crimes By A. M. Johnson - Shocked,I am shocked to think our legislature realizing the results of action this article brings out, had no idea the projected action to extract funds from the Permanent Fund would result in this fiscal loss. - More...
Thursday PM - November 02, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Hunting on POW! By Frances C. Natkong - To you who come to our island to hunt to kill senselessly we have to live here no matter how much you spend coming here. You kill our deer and bear that we live off all year. I've seen deer and bear carcasses with the bear hides gone and the antlers gone all trophy hunters. - More...
Thursday PM - November 02, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Ketchikan School District's educational performance By A. M. Johnson - In an effort to continue the awareness of Ketchikan School District's educational performance, the following data has been mined from the state's report. The two segments of the report are given below for personal review on a statewide basis. - More..
Friday PM - October 27, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Honor All Veterans By Donald Moskowitz - On this upcoming Veterans Day our families wish to remember all of our veterans, including our family members who served in all of the major wars from the Gulf War to Vietnam, Korea, WWII, WWI, the Spanish American War and the Civil War.- More...
Friday PM - October 27, 2017

Opinion - Letter

Say what... Byron "unhinged" perhaps? By Trevor Shaw - Before I get started, although I serve as the President of the Ketchikan School Board, I am speaking on behalf of myself as a private citizen and not as a representative of the Ketchikan School District. - More...
Tuesday PM - October 24, 2017

Opinion - Letter

If We Are To Succeed As A State, Alaska Can Never Go Back By Lt. Governor Byron Mallott - We need to have a serious conversation about our fiscal crisis.

Over the last 3 years, the Legislature has drawn down over $14 billion of Alaska’s financial reserves. With oil prices expected to stay essentially where they are, we won’t get that money back any time soon. We are down to the last of those reserves – barely $2.5 billion – as we go into the 2018 Legislature and the budget we must present to Alaskans. Governor Walker has called the legislature into special session multiple times over the last two years to pass a complete plan. The plan he presented – a complete plan – would have allowed us to close that gap in the first Legislature of his service. Instead, we find ourselves on the precipice of disaster. - More...
Tuesday PM - October 24, 2017

Opinion - Letter

AMHS - profitability By Laura Plenert - The AMHS is top management and overpaid staff HEAVY. It will never be profitable "as is". This is a picture perfect example of what is wrong with Government being in charge of a business that would be better as a private enterprise.

I have watched for years as the AMHS "system has CUT routes and services aboard their vessels. And yet they still cannot make themselves profitable. - More...
Tuesday PM - October 24, 2017

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“Hundreds of Alaskans have reached out to my administration saying health care costs are increasingly unaffordable,” Governor Walker said. “This law will provide relief from large premium hikes for

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