Elwood Brehmer

Keynote speakers come together for AFN ‘Rise as One’ theme

A horrific crime brought Miriam Aarons and Mao Tosi together. On Oct. 23, the pair of community organizers will share a message of collaboration as co-keynote speakers at the Alaska Federation of Natives Convention in Anchorage.

“I never thought in a million years I would ever be an AFN co-keynote speaker,” said Aarons, 32.

Vigor Alaska to build 2 ferries in Ketchikan

Alaska’s newest ferries will be the first made in the state after all.
Gov. Sean Parnell announced an agreement Sept. 20 between the state and Vigor Alaska to construct two Alaska Class ferries at Vigor’s Ketchikan shipyard.
Vigor Alaska estimated in a company release that the pair of 280-foot Alaska Marine Highway System ferries can be built for $101 million total, less than the state’s $120 million Vessel Replacement Fund budget.

At least two firms to bid on Buccaneer

There is a new suitor for Buccaneer Energy’s Alaska assets and a tangled web of legal challenges continue for the bankrupt independent producer.

Miller Energy Resources Inc. announced its intent to spend $40 million to $50 million on “substantially all” of Buccaneer’s Alaska holdings in a Sept. 15 release. The Knoxville, Tenn.-based independent entered a non-binding letter of intent with Buccaneer, according to the release.

Miller is the parent company of Cook Inlet Energy LLC, which has an office in Anchorage.

Buccaneer bankruptcy leaves businesses unpaid

Buccaneer Energy Ltd. and its family of subsidiaries filed for bankruptcy in May, leaving millions worth of unpaid bills in Alaska.
The Australia-based independent’s debt in the state is more than $2.1 million, according to a list of Buccaneer’s 30 largest unsecured creditors filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Texas, located in Houston.
The Alaska Department of Revenue is listed as Buccaneer’s ninth-largest creditor and the second-largest in the state, with a bill of $605,116.

Closure of Flint Hills refinery means higher-priced asphalt

As paving season peaks, getting asphalt to construction sites across Alaska has become more complicated and expensive since Flint Hills Resources closed its North Pole oil refinery.
The real price of asphalt oil has spiked about 20 percent over last year — about $150 per ton — for construction projects in Fairbanks and more remote locations, Exclusive Paving General Manager Travis Cline said.
The reason for the cost increase is asphalt oil used for state Transportation Department Northern Region projects must now be trucked up from Tesoro’s Nikiski refinery.

New Alaska FAA chief: Aviation still safest mode of travel

As the new head of the Federal Aviation Administration in Alaska, Kerry Long is focused on one word: safety.
The fact that other topics sometimes overshadow the agency’s core mission of promoting safe flying is a testament to how effective the FAA is and should not be forgotten, he said.
“I’m pleased that we can focus on issues of efficiency, on issues of getting somewhere late, where we don’t have to worry about if we’re going to get there,” he said. “I think that gets lost in translation. Aviation is still by far the safest mode of transportation.”

Interior group aims to simplify gas conversions

Fairbanks utilities are investigating ways to simplify and encourage conversion to natural gas when it becomes available.
Interior Gas Utility board chairman Bob Shefchik told the Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority board of directors Aug. 25 that the goal of a conversion working group is to provide a “one-stop shop” for natural gas service, a boiler or furnace and financing for residential conversion. IGU was formed by the Fairbanks North Star Borough to distribute gas through the state-sponsored Interior Energy Project.

Mat-Su officials, feds to meet about $12.3M bill for ferry

Matanuska-Susitna Borough officials are prepping for negotiations with the U.S. Transportation Department to resolve $12.3 million the borough owes the feds for its failed ferry plan.

In all, the Mat-Su Borough received $21.2 million from the Federal Transit Administration from three grants awarded between 2002 and 2009 to jumpstart ferry service across Knik Arm between Port MacKenzie and Anchorage.

Mat-Su officials pondering how to pay ferry bill

The Federal Transit Administration wants $12.3 million back from the Matanuska-Susitna Borough for the borough’s failed Knik Arm ferry plan.

Acting FTA Administrator Therese McMillan sent a letter to Mat-Su Borough Manager John Moosey Aug. 5 demanding repayment of the grant money. The $12.3 million is the portion of approximately $21.2 million in grants approved for the project that the borough has spent.

EPA hears from public on proposal to veto Pebble

ANCHORAGE — Two minutes at a time, the Environmental Protection Agency heard directly from Alaskans how they feel about the agency’s proposal to block Pebble mine development.

At an Aug. 12 public hearing in Anchorage, 133 attendees testified before EPA Region 10 Administrator Dennis McLerran and Bristol Bay Management Lead Richard Parkin about the unprecedented use of the agency’s Clean Water Act Section 404(c) authority to ban a project before permit applications are filed if it determines there would be an adverse affect on fish and wildlife habitat.

EPA hears from public on proposal to veto Pebble

ANCHORAGE — Two minutes at a time, the Environmental Protection Agency heard directly from Alaskans how they feel about the agency’s proposal to block Pebble mine development.
At an Aug. 12 public hearing in Anchorage, 133 attendees testified before EPA Region 10 Administrator Dennis McLerran and Bristol Bay Management Lead Richard Parkin about the unprecedented use of the agency’s Clean Water Act Section 404(c) authority to ban a project before permit applications are filed if it determines there would be an adverse affect on fish and wildlife habitat.

Enstar employees strike

Enstar Natural Gas Co.’s Alaska operations employees went on strike Monday morning.

The striking workers are at Enstar’s Anchorage, Kenai Peninsula and Matanuska-Susitna area branches, according to a release from the United Association of Plumbers and Steamfitters Union Local 367 that represents the Enstar employees.

The union and the natural gas utility have not been able to settle differences over retirement benefits, and Enstar has not negotiated fairly, the union claims.

Alaska Air posts another record quarter

At Alaska Air Group Inc. records are indeed made to be broken. Leaders of the parent to Alaska Airlines reported a record second quarter net income of $157 million.

The results reported July 24 are a 50 percent increase in profits versus the $105 million second quarter of 2013 and mark the company’s eighth record net income in the last nine quarters. It was also Alaska Air Group’s 21st consecutive profitable quarter.

Parnell signs into law bill to simplify registration for older vehicles

WASILLA — Gov. Sean Parnell signed legislation June 20 aimed at simplifying vehicle registration for Alaskans with older cars.

House Bill 19 gives individuals the option to permanently register their personal vehicles that are at least eight years old. It also gives personal trailer owners the option to permanently register their trailers.

Stoltze, R-Chugiak, the bill’s sponsor, said HB 19 would encourage compliance with state vehicle registration laws.

Bering Straits Native Corp. examining potential for new arctic port facilities

The prospect of new port facilities in Western Alaska will rely heavily on arctic oil and gas development, according to a recent Northern Economics study.

Commissioned by Bering Straits Native Corp. and marine services company Crowely Maritime Corp., the feasibility analysis released June 6 focused on Port Clarence, northwest of Nome on the Seward Peninsula.

Breakwater next step in Seward’s plans for marine industrial center

The city of Seward is ready to jumpstart development that has been decades in the making.

When Gov. Sean Parnell signed the fiscal year 2015 capital budget May 28, Seward was officially awarded $5.9 million from the state to complete its breakwater and begin full-scale work on what the city calls the Seward Marine Industrial Center.

Pebble sues EPA over attempt to veto mine

The Pebble Limited Partnership took the Environmental Protection Agency to court May 21 and claimed the agency is illegally overstepping its bounds by attempting to block a mine before the permitting process begins.

In a statement released in conjunction with Pebble’s complaint filed in U.S. District Court of Alaska, company CEO Tom Collier said the suit is not an intent to strip EPA of its regulatory authority under the Clean Water Act, but rather an attempt to ensure guidelines set by Congress are followed.

Resolution pending for CIRI, Buccaneer gas dispute

A dispute between Buccaneer Energy, Cook Inlet Region Inc. and the state of Alaska over natural gas royalties from Kenai Peninsula wells could be resolved within a month, according to the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.

At a Monday hearing, commission chair Cathy Foerster said if the groups could not reach a settlement within 30 days the commission would act as an arbitrator and make a ruling.

EPA action to block Pebble project spotlights unprecedented use of Clean Water Act powers

The Environmental Protection Agency set a potentially unprecedented process in motion when it began work on Feb. 28 to preemptively block Pebble mine as an effort to protect Bristol Bay fisheries.

EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said in a formal statement the agency was initiating action to invoke its authority to veto the proposed Iliamna-area copper-gold mine under the seldom-used Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act.

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