Alaska News Nightly: January 13, 2014

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Federal Spending Package Secures Funds For Tribal Health Care Facilities

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington DC

In Congress tonight, a massive spending package has emerged after weeks of intense negotiations among lawmakers, and it contains good news for Alaskans.  Sen. Lisa Murkowski, top Republican on the subcommittee for Interior Department spending, has announced that she’s secured $66 million to staff the state’s six new tribally operated health care facilities.  Lloyd Miller, an Anchorage attorney who represents Native hospital and clinic operators, says it will help the tribal groups who borrowed money to build the facilities, and boost the economy as a whole.

Alaska’s Affordable Care Act Enrollment Remains Low

Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage

The federal government released numbers today that give an idea of who is signing up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act. In Alaska, about 3000 people selected marketplace plans before December 28th and 83% qualify for a subsidy to help pay for premiums. But Enroll Alaska has seen a steep drop off in the number of people signing up for insurance in the New Year.

Refinery Owner Seeks Lower Cleanup Level For Tainted Groundwater

Tim Ellis, KUAC – Fairbanks

The operator of the North Pole refinery wants the state to set a lower standard for cleaning up the sulfolane groundwater-contamination problem in the North Pole area. Flint Hills Resources Alaska has asked the head of the state Department of Environmental Conservation to set a less-stringent cleanup level for the industrial solvent that leaked into the groundwater for more than a decade before Flint Hills bought the refinery in 2004. The requests could delay cleanup for several months.

Akutan Volcano’s Geothermal Power Potential Increases

Annie Ropeik, KUCB – Unalaska

A new study shows Akutan Volcano could be an even more promising source of geothermal energy than previously thought.

Bering Sea Ice Sees 7-Year Expansion

Anna Rose MacArthur, KNOM – Nome

While sea ice in the Arctic has been undergoing a seven-year decline, sea ice in the Bering Sea has been experiencing a seven-year expansion.

Interior Alaska’s River, Lake Ice Thinner Than Normal

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

There’s less than normal ice build up on many Interior waters. The National Weather Service drills into ice on rivers and lakes at the start of each month, and agency hydrologist Ed Plumb says January’s measurements showed generally thinner ice.

Allen Moore Wins Copper Basin 300

Tony Gorman, KCHU – Valdez

Allen Moore has successfully defended his Copper Basin 300 title.  The Two Rivers musher held off Nicolas Petit on the final leg for his fifth victory, the most in race history.

Trailbreakers Prepare Yukon Quest Route

Emily Schwing, KUAC – Fairbanks

Trailbreakers are busy packing and clearing the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race trail. There are no major changes planned for the route this year. This will be one of the busier years on the Alaska side of the trail, where dog teams are likely to encounter open water.

UAA Planetarium Offers Unique Look Into McNeil Bear Sanctuary

Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage

If you are lucky enough to get a permit, the McNeil River Sanctuary in Southwest Alaska offers an opportunity to safely get up close and personal with the largest congregation of brown bears in the world. Since only 185 permits are drawn each year, a UAA professor decided to team up with an Alaska filmmaker to create an immersive experience for those who can’t make the trip.

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