February 26, 2014 | Vol. 26 Edition 8

News Briefs

Feds Worry Gasline a False Start

Valdez Star photo
Great Blue Heron or Sandhill Crane? This young bird perched on a railing near the Ferry Terminal Monday demonstrates how easily the two species are often confused, one for the other.

(AP) A federal official told state lawmakers the feds are ready to work on a liquefied natural gas pipeline project but don't want another false start.

Larry Persily is federal coordinator of Alaska gas pipeline projects.

In testimony submitted to the Senate Finance Committee, he said federal agencies would like to know a project has a real shot at making it this time.

He said this time could well be different than past, failed efforts.

He said working in the state's favor is that liquefied natural gas demand is the strongest growth industry for energy in the world.

The state faces a lot of potential competitors but he said it's not an impossible market.

Lawmakers are considering legislation that would move the project into a phase of preliminary engineering and design.

Surcharge raised for oil spills

A per-barrel surcharge on oil would be raised from four cents to seven cents to help bolster a state account used for the cleanup of contaminated sites, non-emergency spill response and other activities.

The bill, from Rep. Cathy Munoz, also would keep in place a one-cent-per-barrel surcharge for a separate emergency response account until that account hits $75 million. The one-cent surcharge is currently suspended when the account hits $50 million.

Last week, the director of the state's Division of Spill Prevention and Response told a Munoz-chaired subcommittee that the prevention account will soon not have enough money to keep up with costs and would likely need a general fund appropriation as early as fiscal year 2016.

Munoz called the proposed seven-cent surcharge a good starting point.

Senate Eyes Guns at College

(AP) University of Alaska officials have yet to respond to a Senate bill that would allow the legal concealed carry of firearms on University of Alaska campuses.

Senate bill 176, sponsored by Sen. John Coghill, R-North Pole, would prohibit the university from enacting any firearms bans on its campuses with the exception of restricted areas where visitors are screened, the Fairbanks News Miner(http://bit.ly/1fFyegW) reported.

Coghill has said the bill, brought to him by his intern, challenges the Board of Regents' authority to set rules restricting legal carry.

The bill says the state has the authority to regulate firearms and knives and unless specifically allowed by law, the regents cannot enforce policies regulating things like possession or use.

Axe coming on sex marriage ban?

The minority leader of the Alaska Senate is proposing to strike the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in Alaska.

Sen. Hollis French says the legalization of same-sex marriage across the country seems inevitable.

In a statement Monday, he said the day isn't far off when the U.S. Supreme Court will find state prohibitions on same-sex marriage are ``inconsistent with freedom, justice, liberty and equality.''

He said passage of his constitutional amendment will let Alaska voters remove what he called a ``blot'' on the state's constitution.

To pass, the proposal would need two-thirds vote in each the Alaska Senate and House before it could qualify for the ballot.

Alaska's attorney general has said he will defend the state's constitution, which defines marriage as being between one man and one woman.

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