MARK THIESSEN

Walker limits PFD payouts to $1,000

ANCHORAGE — Facing a multibillion-dollar deficit, the Alaska governor on Wednesday cut in half the annual checks that give all residents a share of the state’s oil wealth, but he kept enough money in place to award everyone a $1,000 payout.

Gov. Bill Walker had said recently that all budget-cutting options were on the table, raising the prospect that he might do away with the checks entirely. They have been distributed for more than three decades and last year climbed to a record $2,072.

White House praises state for expanding Medicaid

ANCHORAGE — The White House on Tuesday praised the decision by Alaska Gov. Bill Walker to expand Medicaid to thousands of residents over the wishes of the Republican-led Legislature, calling it the “right decision.”

Alaska on Tuesday became the 29th state to expand Medicaid, opening up health care through what it calls the Healthy Alaska Plan to an estimated 20,000 low-income residents.

Hull damage forces Shell support ship back to dock

An icebreaker carrying a key piece of equipment for Arctic drilling planned by Royal Dutch Shell off the northern coast of Alaska was forced to return to dock after a hole more than three feet long was discovered in its hull, the company said Tuesday.

It was unclear if the mishap would delay Shell’s plan for drilling this summer.

The crew of the Fennica discovered the leak in a ballast tank on Friday as the ship was leaving the channel in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, on its way to the Arctic, Shell spokesman Curtis Smith said.

Shell clears big hurdle for drilling in Arctic

ANCHORAGE — Royal Dutch Shell’s Arctic drilling program has cleared a major bureaucratic hurdle to begin drilling for oil and gas off Alaska’s northwestern coast this summer.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management on Monday approved the multi-year exploration plan in the Chukchi Sea for Shell after reviewing thousands of comments from the public, Alaska Native organizations and state and federal agencies.

The approval came just days before a planned protest of the drilling program in Seattle.

Dallas Seavey wins third Iditarod in four years

NOME — If ever there was uncertainty about the outcome of the world’s most famous sled dog race, it was this year.

Warm weather and a lack of snow in much of Alaska spurred organizers of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race to forge an untested route, utilizing the state’s extensive system of frozen rivers.

Would this make the race faster or easier? Would it benefit mushers more accustomed to racing on ice? Or would warm temperatures create new hazards on the rivers?

Lockheed Martin wins Alaska spaceport bid

ANCHORAGE — The state-owned space agency on Friday named Lockheed Martin the winner of a bidding process to reconfigure a launch pad to accommodate larger rockets than what the Kodiak Launch Complex can currently handle.

Lockheed Martin beat out three other bidders to reconfigure a launch pad at the Kodiak site, officials with the Alaska Aerospace Corp. said during a news conference in Anchorage.

GOP Senate candidates spar in televised forum

ANCHORAGE — The three main Republican candidates for U.S. Senate all are anti-abortion, believe government surveillance goes too far and are not in favor of legalizing marijuana.

Fairbanks attorney Joe Miller, former Attorney General Dan Sullivan and current Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell answered questions posed by viewers Friday night during a televised forum sponsored by Anchorage television station KTUU and the Alaska Press Club.

Alaska’s largest daily newspaper sold

ANCHORAGE — An online competitor announced plans Tuesday to buy Alaska’s largest daily newspaper.

Alaska Dispatch Publishing LLC, the parent company of the online newspaper the Alaska Dispatch, will purchase the Anchorage Daily News from The McClatchy Co. for $34 million. The sale is expected to close in May.

“This is a chance for us to get even more reporters on the ground and do more journalism,” said Tony Hopfinger, Alaska Dispatch’s co-founder, executive editor and president.

Fishermen protest Walmart salmon decision

ANCHORAGE — Nearly 40 Alaska fishermen protested Sept. 4 outside an Anchorage Walmart store, upset with a decision by the company about how it buys seafood.

Holding signs like “Buy American? Start with Alaska Salmon” and “Walmart should be WILD about sustainable ALASKA SALMON,” the protesters received honks from passing motorists in south Anchorage.

The protest came a day before Alaska state and seafood industry officials were to meet with executives of Walmart Stores Inc., at the company’s headquarters in Bentonville, Ark.

Minimum wage hike plan gets go-ahead

ANCHORAGE — The organizers of a ballot initiative to raise the minimum wage in Alaska have been given the go-ahead to begin collecting signatures, Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell said Monday.

Treadwell, whose office oversees elections, notified the petition sponsors, former Alaska Labor Commissioners Ed Flanagan, Tom Cashen and Jim Samson. Organizers will have one year to gather the 31,169 signatures required to qualify the measure for the ballot.

ConocoPhillips announces plans to increase Alaska production

ANCHORAGE — Just days after the Alaska Legislature lowered taxes on the oil industry, ConocoPhillips announced plans to boost investment on North Slope fields.
ConocoPhillips is planning to bring an additional rig to the Kuparuk field this spring and working with co-owners to fund a new drill site on the Kuparuk River field, the company said in an announcement April 17.
It’s also beginning the regulatory and permitting stage and starting engineering for the Greater Moose’s Tooth unit in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.

Subscribe to RSS - MARK THIESSEN