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News Round Up [June 7, 2017]

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The Legislature has a credibility problem and it’s not only about trusting what legislators say

Matt Buxton

Friday finally saw the appointment of a conference committee on oil and gas taxes. It was expected to meet Monday, according to a tweet by the Juneau Empire’s James Brooks.

But, surprise! It didn’t.

In fact, Monday’s schedule was bare, as pointed out by Brooks.

o which I fired off a tweet saying “The #akleg is starting to have a credibility problem.”

The Legislature’s credibility problem is not as much about trusting what its members say as it is about the Legislature’s ability to make progress on the fiscal crisis.

Folks are losing hope that anything can be done.

With the looming government shutdown on July 1, it seems the caucuses are growing further apart from even passing the operating budget by itself much less a fiscal plan of any variety.

We saw that on Monday in the first responses to Gov. Bill Walker’s proposed compromise. His proposal was not only the first public indication that there might be progress on the budget, it was the first public indication that anyone was attempting compromise.

Instead, it was apparently dead by the end of the day with a swift rebuttal from the House Majority. There might be something salvaged out of here, but statements by Majority Leader Chris Tuck seem to paint the bipartisan coalition into a corner. [Read the rest of the blog post here]

Tustumena's return delayed until August

By AARON BOLTON

The F/V Tustumena’s return to service has once again been delayed. The Alaska Marine Highway announced Monday more of the vessel’s steel structure would need to be replaced.

The Tustumena has been in Ketchikan for scheduled maintenance since March, and its return to Western Alaska was set for May 27. Staff found the first batch of damaged steel in early May, cutting the vessel’s scheduled sailings in half.

Marine Highway Spokeswoman Meadow Bailey explained after the latest discovery, communities from Homer to Unalaska won’t have service until August 15. [Source]

Opponents rally against copper prospect they fear could become another Pebble

Alaska Dispatch News by Alex DeMarban

Critics of a copper prospect in the Bristol Bay region who fear it could become a smaller version of its giant neighbor, Pebble, have launched an early campaign to stop it.

The so-called Groundhog prospect follows the same geological belt that supports Pebble, the proposed massive open-pit gold and copper mine a few miles to the south. Pebble has bitterly divided pro-development and conservation forces for years.

But unlike Pebble, an Alaska Native village corporation owns part of the Groundhog mineral claims on state land.

That's not enough for opponents, who earlier this week said they oppose any mining in a watershed that supports one of the world's most important wild salmon fisheries.

The opposition extends to nearby Nondalton, a village of 150 less than 10 miles from where some of the exploration drilling for Groundhog would occur. It's also home to the Kijik Corp., the Native village corporation that owns 49 percent of project owner Chuchuna Minerals Co.

Poverty rates are high in the village, and the average household income is estimated at about $25,000, one-third of the Anchorage average, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's 2009-2013 American Community Survey.

Chuchuna's agreement with Quaterra gives the Canadian company the option of purchasing 90 percent of the project by paying $5 million for exploration over five years, and paying Chuchuna $3 million after five years, Quaterra announced in April. [Read the rest]


From our Sitnews Friends: "Catfood Gravity: It's not just a good idea, it's the law"'

Ketchikan, Alaska - It is a rainy day in Ketchikan.

Yeah, I know that is redundant.

We live in a rainforest, not a sunforest. Yadda, yadda, yadda.

But that means that the birds that flock to the seeds on our deck are busy elsewhere where it is not raining. They pretty much fly 10 miles north or south of Ketchikan, where it is not raining.

It makes you wonder why we have decided to settle in the wettest place around. Elsewhere - even in Alaska - it is summer. Heck, even in the southern hemisphere it is probably more summery than it is here right now.

It's funny because even on this island there are places where the weather is less inclement. Even on the other side of Gravina. Probably on the other side of Pennock. Probably on the other side of the Bar Harbor Breakwater.

But no, we chose to live here, in this spot, in this sun deprived realm. [Read the Whole Column]

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