News Briefs


Qaniq Challenge

A total of 31 skiers hit the ski trails last weekend for the city sponsored Qaniq Challenge, a two-day race on two different trails with a big purse and small amount of snow. Top finishers in the women's and men's divisions in the 35 kilometer race won $3,000 for first place, $1,500 for second place and $500 for third place.

Number 8. Becca Rorabaugh took first place in the women's division. Second and third place were won by Lauren Fritz and Shalane Frost. Lex Treinen won the men's division. Scott Patterson and Dylan Watts were second and third.

4G LTE cell speed comes to Lake Louise

Copper Valley Telecom debuted 4G LTE wireless service to Lake Louise on Dec. 31.

The communications cooperative said in a press release that the service comes from a cell site near Mile Ten on Lake Louise Road and is now widely available in the remote area.

Tests of the signal resulted in speeds of 10-30 Mbps, the same speeds received from other 4G LTE sites in the Copper Valley and Valdez," CVT said. "Some historically hard to serve spots around the Lake tested at 7 Mbps."

According to Wikipedia, LTE is "an abbreviation for Long-Term Evolution, commonly marketed as 4G LTE, is a standard for wireless communication of high-speed data for mobile phones and data terminals."

CVT said the service is available because the cooperative replaced its microwave pathway with 10 miles of fiber optic line.

AG to ask for stay in same-sex marriage appeal

(AP) Alaska Attorney General Craig Richards will ask a federal appeals court to stay the state's same-sex marriage case pending a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The high court announced Friday that it will take up four gay marriage cases and decide whether same-sex couples nationwide have a right to marry under the U.S. Constitution.

In October, a federal judge in Alaska struck down this state's same-sex marriage ban. The state appealed under then-Gov. Sean Parnell, who lost re-election in November.

Richards, who was appointed by Parnell's successor, Gov. Bill Walker, recently said he hadn't decided whether to continue pursuing the appeal.

In a statement, he said the high court's order makes clear the supreme court will address the same issues that are at the heart of the Alaska case.

2014 was very shaky for Alaska

(AP) Alaska experienced a busy year underground in 2014, according to experts who record the state's earthquakes.

The Alaska Earthquake Information Center detected 40,686 quakes in the state and bordering parts of Canada, significantly more than the previous high of nearly 32,000 in 2003, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

In 2013, 28,000 earthquakes were detected with the center's seismometer network.

``We've blown away those benchmarks,'' said state seismologist Michael West. ``There's never been a year where we identified 40,000 earthquakes in a year.''

The number is easily the most in the last decade or so, he said, but it's hard to make comparisons to earlier years.

``The further we go back the less information there is,'' he said.

Most of the 2014 earthquakes were not felt by people, West said, and were in the range of magnitude 2 or 3.

Gasline still a go

(AP) Work on a proposed Alaska pipeline that could be part of a system to export liquefied natural gas to Asia is moving forward despite collapsing oil prices, according to officials connected to the project.

The lower price of oil is delaying at least two other North American LNG export projects but has not stopped the Alaska venture because of its size, projected timelines and a partnership involving some of the world's largest companies, the Alaska Dispatch news reported.

``Our mission hasn't changed, and to my knowledge none of the investing companies are looking to change that at this time either,'' said Steve Butt, senior manager for Alaska LNG and an Exxon employee.

The line enjoyed popular support by Valdez and interior residents as a project to bring natural gas to Fairbanks, the Copper Basin and Prince William Sound by way of a natural gas pipeline to tidewater in Valdez. A site somewhere near Nikiski was later chosen by project officials as the terminus.

The project would include an 800-mile pipeline to move North Slope natural gas to a southcentral Alaska plant, where it would be chilled, loaded on LNG tankers and shipped to Asia.

The cost is estimated at $45 billion to more than $65 billion. The state of Alaska, Exxon, BP and ConocoPhillips are equity partners.

The project is a giant among dozens of LNG export projects being pursued, but most probably will not be built, said Larry Persily, federal pipeline coordinator.

One difference between the Alaska LNG and others is the timeline. Investment decisions must be made for some projects based on the expectation of exporting gas in five years or less.

Alaska LNG is in an early study phase, with the parties focused on preliminary engineering and design.

A critical decision point comes next year when companies decide whether they will continue to front-end engineering and design before a final critical decision to invest in 2018 or 2019. With an estimated seven years of construction, gas could move for shipping in 2025 or 2026.

The size of the Alaska project might also help. Gas is expected to flow for three to five decades and it could weather fluctuations in the price, Butt said.

``Short-term price movements don't impact a project with a very long life the same way they impact projects with a very short life,'' Butt said. ``Alaska LNG has a very long life.''

Attorney General Craig Richards


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