Elwood Brehmer

Marijuana association rolls out

Those hoping to get in on the ground floor of Alaska’s legal marijuana industry now have a supporter.

The Alaska Marijuana Industry Association announced it is open for business July 9 during a briefing at The Boardroom workspace in downtown Anchorage.

Alaska Marijuana Industry Association president and board member Bruce Schulte, a pilot by trade, said the five-member board recognized a need for an organized industry resource to help a burgeoning group of cannabis entrepreneurs.

Cuts hurt tourism marketing

Alaska’s tourism industry leaders are among the folks trying to manage significant state budget cuts.

The Alaska Tourism Industry Association’s budget was cut by more than 45 percent as of July 1, the first day of the state fiscal year, according to ATIA President and CEO Sarah Leonard.

The fiscal year 2016 budget, through its work with the state Commerce Department’s Tourism Marketing Program, will be cut by about $8.6 million to $10.1 million, which is down from $18.7 million in 2015, Leonard said.

State purchase of Fairbanks gas company expected to shave rates

Nearly six months after the idea was announced, the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority board of directors approved the $52.5 million purchase of Fairbanks Natural Gas during a special meeting June 11.

Included in the purchase price are all of the companies under Pentex Alaska Natural Gas Co., the parent company to Fairbanks Natural Gas and Titan Alaska LNG, which operates the small natural gas liquefaction facility at Point MacKenzie. The two LNG-powered trucks used to transport LNG to Fairbanks are also part of the deal.

Homer Electric Association is requesting a rate change in its quarterly filings with the Regulatory Commission of Alaska. In its

Pebble Limited Partnership’s lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency will continue as a federal judge denied the agency’s motion to dismiss June 4.

U.S. Alaska District Court Judge H. Russel Holland concluded that while the EPA may not have established the three “anti-mine” groups as described by Pebble in its complaint — the anti-mine coalition, scientists and assessment team — agency staff could have utilized them to draft the pending determination to block development of Pebble’s copper and gold claims near Bristol Bay.

Pebble, EPA say lawsuit should continue

Pebble Limited Partnership and the Environmental Protection Agency finally agree on one thing: their court fight should move forward.

Each side filed seven-page briefs May 14 requesting Alaska U.S. District Court Judge H. Russel Holland continue with an oral argument hearing in Pebble’s lawsuit against the EPA scheduled for today.

Seward leads efforts to train maritime workforce for future

SEWARD — AVTEC, that little school at the end of the road in Seward, happens to be at the international forefront of maritime training.

Right now, the Alaska Vocational Technical Center is in the midst of its second ice navigation course — the only school in the nation to offer such a class and one of just four in the world.

Often, Alaskans have to fight to keep their fellow residents in state for education, technology or job training. In this case, Outsiders are coming to Alaska.

Seward develops marine infrastructure

The City of Seward hopes to break ground on its new harbor and breakwater in October, provided it can get a contractor in time.

The in-water infrastructure will be the backbone of the Seward Marine Industrial Center that will someday take advantage of several hundred acres of city-owned uplands, combined with the ice-free harbor, to create a sort of marine industrial park, city Community Development Director Ron Long said.

DOT unveils options for $250M-plus Cooper Landing Bypass

The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities wants feedback on plans to move the Sterling Highway around Cooper Landing.

DOT released a draft supplemental environmental impact statement March 29 with four alternatives to improve traffic flow and increase road capacity on a 13-mile stretch of the Sterling Highway.

Cost estimates for the road construction options range from $250 million to $304 million.

Alaska’s electric utilities facing changes

Changes are coming to the regulations that guide Alaska’s electric utilities.

Where those changes come from and how broad they are will be decided in the next six months, but nothing appears to be off limits.

In the Legislature, House Bill 78 is being scrutinized by the House Energy Committee. In the Regulatory Commission of Alaska, draft rules would bring state regulations more in line with Federal Energy Regulatory Commission requirements that guide utilities in the Lower 48.

Medicaid expansion plan unveiled

Increasing Medicaid access to 41,000 more Alaskans will save the state several million dollars per year according to Gov. Bill Walker’s administration.

In the first year of expansion, fiscal year 2016, the State of Alaska will save $6.1 million based on figures in a Department of Health and Social Services report.

Project to get gas to Interior moves forward with help

ANCHORAGE — Former Interior Gas Utility chair Bob Shefchik has taken the reins of the Interior Energy Project. 

Shefchik notified IGU leadership and the Legislature Feb. 9 that he would be resigning from his post as the head of the utility board Feb. 10. 

With Shefchik as the project leader, Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority Energy Infrastructure Development Officer Nick Szymoniak, Alaska Energy Authority Energy Policy and Outreach Director Gene Therriault and AEA Railbelt Energy Infrastructure Engineer Kirk Warren will join Shefchik’s team.

CIRI settles dispute over Kenai Loop gas

The fight over Kenai Loop natural gas appears to be over.

Attorneys for all four parties currently involved in the dispute — Cook Inlet Region Inc., the Alaska Mental Health Land Trust Authority, the Department of Natural Resources, and AIX Energy LLC — signed a joint request for dismissal Jan. 23 of the ongoing hearing in the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission related to the case.

CIRI Vice President of Land and Energy Development Ethan Schutt said the Southcentral Native corporation had an agreement in place with AIX for a couple weeks.

Walker stops work on several projects

How little can the state afford to spend?

Gov. Bill Walker halted immediate spending on six of the state’s notable pending mega-projects Dec. 27, part of an effort to scrutinize all expenditures and minimize the fiscal year 2016 budget deficit.

Walker’s administrative order stopped work on a road to the Ambler Mining District; the Juneau access road; the Susitna-Watana Hydro project; the Knik Arm bridge; the Alaska Stand Alone Pipeline; and the Kodiak Launch Complex.

Walker stops work on several projects

How little can the state afford to spend?

Gov. Bill Walker halted immediate spending on six of the state’s notable pending mega-projects Dec. 27, part of an effort to scrutinize all expenditures and minimize the fiscal year 2016 budget deficit.

Walker’s administrative order stopped work on a road to the Ambler Mining District; the Juneau access road; the Susitna-Watana Hydro project; the Knik Arm bridge; the Alaska Stand Alone Pipeline; and the Kodiak Launch Complex.

Most ferry rates going up

The cost of your favorite state ferry trip is likely going up.

Fares for most Alaska Marine Highway System routes will increase 4.5 percent Jan. 1 or shortly thereafter, said Reuben Yost, deputy commissioner of the state Transportation Department, during a Dec. 12 Marine Transportation Advisory Board meeting.

The fare increases will first affect the 2015 summer schedule, Yost said, which begins May 1.

Trips planned before the new rates are released for the upcoming spring and summer will not be impacted.

Most ferry rates going up

The cost of your favorite state ferry trip is likely going up.

Fares for most Alaska Marine Highway System routes will increase 4.5 percent Jan. 1 or shortly thereafter, said Reuben Yost, deputy commissioner of the state Transportation Department, during a Dec. 12 Marine Transportation Advisory Board meeting.

The fare increases will first affect the 2015 summer schedule, Yost said, which begins May 1.

Trips planned before the new rates are released for the upcoming spring and summer will not be impacted.

Most ferry rates going up

The cost of your favorite state ferry trip is likely going up.

Fares for most Alaska Marine Highway System routes will increase 4.5 percent Jan. 1 or shortly thereafter, said Reuben Yost, deputy commissioner of the state Transportation Department, during a Dec. 12 Marine Transportation Advisory Board meeting.

The fare increases will first affect the 2015 summer schedule, Yost said, which begins May 1.

Trips planned before the new rates are released for the upcoming spring and summer will not be impacted.

Endeavour to leave Cook Inlet next week

The Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority sold its stake in Kenai Offshore Ventures for $25.6 million and the Endeavour jack-up rig is on its way out of Cook Inlet, the authority announced Nov. 14. KOV plans to move the Endeavour next week on a heavy lift vessel to South Africa for use in offshore exploration, AIDEA said in its press release on Friday.

Buccaneer seeks $20M from state

Bankrupt Buccaneer Energy Ltd. is demanding more than $20 million from the state of Alaska, days after appearing to sell its remaining assets.

The Australia-based independent filed a motion Oct. 30 to compel the state to pay tax credits it claims it is owed under the Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share (ACES) oil and gas tax system in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas.

Buccaneer’s domestic subsidiary, Buccaneer Resources LLC is based in Houston.

State saves fast with new insurance administrator

Health care spending leveled off for the state of Alaska in the last fiscal year, bucking a trend of dramatic cost increases over the previous decade.

“We’re expecting the (health care) cost trend for fiscal year 2014 will be pretty flat and we’re hoping that will continue into 2015 with even a slight possible decline,” Department of Administration Commissioner Curtis Thayer said Oct. 9 at the State of Reform health care conference in Anchorage.

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