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May 2, 2016

Big Ideas for a Big State

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By Howard Weaver President Obama’s recent attention to Alaska — especially in Dillingham, Kotzebue and Seward — provides a welcome focus for looking beyond the bleak landscape of oil price collapse and budget cuts toward a brighter, more sustainable future. For perhaps the first time since western contact, Alaskans may be motivated to turn away from the love-em-and-leave-em dynamics of extraction to embrace their genuine treasures: the cultural diversity and frontier spirit of its people; an abundance of renewable resources that can be managed and sustained forever; and indigenous wisdom from the North that can benefit all mankind. Seward, then…

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Obama Comes to Alaska: We Have to Break the Ice, so We Can Save It.

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As I drove, I imagined having to explain to a Secret Service agent that the reason my boots set off the sniffer dog is because the last two places I wore them were a pig farm and a gun show respectively. So, there was a perfectly good explanation why I smelled of gunpowder, and fertilizer. “No really! I swear! I still have the pictures on my phone!” I was glad I had allowed extra time. I had allowed so much extra time, it turns out, that I was the first member of the press at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson (JBER) and waited in…

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Obama Comes to Alaska: We Have to Save the Ice so We Can Break It

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As I drove, I imagined having to explain to a Secret Service agent that the reason my boots set off the sniffer dog is because the last two places I wore them were a pig farm and a gun show respectively. So, there was a perfectly good explanation why I smelled of gunpowder, and fertilizer. “No really! I swear! I still have the pictures on my phone!” I was glad I had allowed extra time. I had allowed so much extra time, it turns out, that I was the first member of the press at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson (JBER) and waited in…

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Obama is Coming…Glacier Conference!

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3:38 pm:  I was in 2 press briefings, one on Arctic Resiliency and one exciting one on the Arctic Steering Committee by Dr. john Holdren and Ambassador Mark Brzezynski.  I asked a question about food insecurity and the lengthening growing season.  Good answers.  The videos will be up later.  Jeannie is here now so she went to a briefing.  Then, we’ll both get placed for the President’s speech in about a half hour!!! 12:48 pm:  waiting for the first press briefing to happen in about 20 minutes with Fran Ulmer and other members of the Committee on Arctic Resiliance. 10:45…

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Court Delivers Double-Whammy Over Pebble

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Friday, the Alaska Supreme Court issued two decisions that will have far-reaching impacts about how the Department of Natural Resources conducts business in hard rock mineral exploration, and the ability of the State and others to chill opposition. While the two cases involved the Pebble Prospect exploration, neither will impact the development of that mine. Background In 1988, Teck Cominco drilled the first exploration wells in what would become the 360 square-mile Pebble Prospect. By 2010, ownership of the Pebble claims would change hands from Teck Cominco to Northern Dynasty Minerals to the Pebble Limited Partnership. Collectively, those entities would…

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Court Sees Value in Protecting Bristol Bay

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Before the Bristol Bay Forever Initiative was ever printed on statewide ballots, it had to defend a legal challenge from an individual named Richard Hughes, the Alaska Miners Association, and the Council of Alaska Producers. The Alaska Supreme Court issued an oral decision allowing that initiative to go to the ballot. Today, the Court issued a written order justifying its decision, Hughes v. Treadwell, Slip Op. No. 6981 (Alaska Supreme Court, Jan. 30, 2015). In order for a citizen ballot initiative to be valid in Alaska, it must avoid certain prohibited topics.  Under Article XI, section 7, it may not engage in an appropriation…

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Alaska… You Crazy! Election Recap

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On election night, one state in the nation voted to legalize marijuana, raise the minimum wage, and add an extra level of environmental protection for sensitive ecosystems facing development. It’s largest city also voted to overturn an anti-labor ordinance which was the brain child of a Mayor (running as a Republican for Lt. Governor) who appears to be about to go down in flames to a non-partisan gubernatorial ticket. That’s like a cool, edgy progressive place to live, right? What if I told you that this very same state has elected by a comfortable margin, a majority in the legislature…

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Sullivan Goes ‘Fog of War,’ Then Flees

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Looks like our Republican “Alaskan” Senate candidate has been watching The Fog of War, and taking a little advice from former Secretary of Defense Robert MacNamara. “Never answer the question that is asked of you. Answer the question that you wish had been asked of you.” Savvy advice when one’s actual answer might be harmful to one’s political prospects. The question asked of the candidate by KTUU’s Grace Jang was pretty straightforward: “How much backing are you getting from the Koch brothers?” One would expect, perhaps, a numerical answer of some kind, like “millions of dollars.” Percentages maybe. Or a…

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Pebble Mine is Really Sorry (They Got Caught)

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These past few weeks have been bad ones for the Pebble Partnership and its attorneys. Here’s the statement issued last week by Pebble Limited Partnership, the Pebble Mines Corp. and Jermain, Dunnagan & Owens, their law firm, the defendants, and the Renewable Resources Coalition, the plaintiffs, in a long-running lawsuit. RELATED: AK Beat: Billionaire mining investor says Pebble “will not be built” The “Renewable Resources Coalition and Pebble Limited Partnership have today announced a settlement of their litigation pending in Los Angeles. In that litigation, Renewable Resources Coalition alleged that Pebble had unlawfully purchased its confidential records and information from…

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What Could Go Wrong? This.

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There’s a game most of us play. It’s called “What Could Go Wrong?!” You know, like I’m going to hand my nine year old an automatic weapon – “What Could Go Wrong?!” Or, why not go bare-headed and drive a motorcycle really fast? “What Could Go Wrong?!” Then there is the always present, Why don’t we build a giant mine at the headwaters of the largest sockeye salmon fishing run in the entire world? “What Could Go Wrong?” Many Alaskans have asked this question over the last decade regarding the proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay. When the state government…

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