Alaska News Nightly: Tuesday, March 15, 2016

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BP to lay off more workers in Anchorage

The Associated Press
BP says it is planning to further reduce its workforce in Alaska as the state continues to struggle with low oil prices. BP spokeswoman Dawn Patience told KTUU-TV on Monday that about 4 percent of the company’s workforce will be cut. Most of the affected positions are based in Anchorage.

Obama keeps door open to offshore drilling

Rachel Waldholz, APRN-Anchorage
The Obama Administration today released a draft plan for offshore oil and gas drilling over the next five years. The proposal keeps the door open to drilling in the Arctic Ocean — for now. But the administration is considering offering no new leases in the Arctic at all.

Critics call feds’ new ‘mitigation’ a coerced fee

Liz Ruskin, APRN-Anchorage
The concept of “mitigation” comes up a lot in stories about development in Alaska. Typically, it’s compensation a company has to pay for filling wetlands. Their permit may require that they improve another patch of wetlands nearby, or pay an organization to preserve wetlands somewhere else. But federal agencies have begun requiring mitigation for other kinds of environmental damage, and at a U.S. Senate hearing Tuesday, critics said it amounts to a coerced payment.

BLM director tours North Slope

Emily Russel, KNOM-Nome
The director of the Bureau of Land Management is visiting the North Slope this week. Over the next two days, director Neil Kornze will meet with Native corporations, local government officials, and community leaders in the region. On Tuesday,  Kornze was helping cap two legacy wells south of Barrow. The Simpson Core and Iko Bay were both drilled by the U.S. Navy in the 1950s. They’re among 18 legacy wells the BLM plans to clean up this year.

Dallas Seavey wins Iditarod in record time

Emily Schwing, KNOM-Nome
In the wee hours of Tuesday morning, Dallas Seavey and his dog team came running down front to claim victory in this year’s Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race and he sat a new race record. The younger Seavey finished less than an hour ahead of his father, Mitch.

Sass suddenly drops for Iditarod leaders

Zach Hughes, KSKA-Anchorage
One of the biggest upsets in the final dash to finish this year’s Iditarod is the sudden disappearance of Brent Sass from the top standings.

Drones becoming more popular in the Arctic

Tim Ellis, KUAC-Fairbanks
Experts from the United States and other Arctic nations have developed the first safety guidelines for operating unmanned drone aircraft in international airspace around the circumpolar north.

Juneau goes to polls to elect new mayor

Juneau residents are hitting the polls on Tuensday to elect a new mayor. Two candidates are vying for the spot: Ken Koelsch  and Karen Crane. The city decided to hold the $35,000 special election after the death of Mayor Greg Fisk. Fisk died of natural causes shortly after winning last year’s election. The mayoral candidates have served on the Juneau Assembly before.

Return of the “Blob”

Matt Miller, KTOO-Juneau
Climate researchers say a giant mass of warm water in the Pacific Ocean may be responsible for unusual sightings of marine life in the North Pacific while also influencing North American weather patterns.

Dueling pot petitions making rounds in Juneau

Emily Jenkins, KTOO-Juneau
Dueling petitions about commercial pot grow houses in Juneau neighborhoods have been making the rounds. The Assembly voted back in November to allow limited cultivation on parts of North Douglas and other low-density areas. After one red public notice went up at the end of a driveway, it caught some in neighborhood off guard.

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