The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

News Briefs


February 7, 2018

Graphic courtesy Valdez City Schools

Winners of last Saturday's Town Races – hosted by the Buccaneer cross-country ski team.

Berth 5 spill

Alyeska reported a crude oil spill Saturday at Berth 5 at the Valdez Marine Terminal.

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation said the spill of crude oil appeared to be under 200 gallons (757 liters). The spill was discovered Saturday morning by a worker who was during routine rounds according to the DEC.

The department says oil reached the water but "no sheen on water has been observed."

The cause of the spill is under investigation. But the department says the oil might have leaked from loading arms into containment. The department says there's no impact to the Trans-Alaska Pipeline.

The department will continue to monitor and clean the area.

Skimming vessels were deployed to the spill site.

Ski races

The Valdez Buccaneers Nordic Ski Team on Saturday hosted its final Town Race for the season. The team skied a 10 kilometer classic race according to the coaching notes by distributed by Valdez City Schools attributed to coaches Melissa Koontz and Timi Minor:

Community members had a choice of classic or skate technique. It was a chilly start at Cato Bridge. Eric Auten finished first with a time of 35:52, but Senior Ben Swanson was hot on his heels finishing in 35:38. Sarah Hinstad chose to skate and placed third with a time of 41:43. Will Stark cruised in at 43:25. Senior Josten Carlson has been working on his double poling technique and finished fifth in 47:48. Skiing newbie Tolgonai Nasipbek-kyzy smashed her first 10K and finished in 1:05:20 and still had a smile on her face at the end. Junior Rowen Miller also crushed her first 10K, finishing in 1:08:10.

The trails were freshly groomed and in prime condition for skiing. Cold temperatures make for slower snow, making the athletes work a little harder. Impressive finishes on slower snow. The team heads to Boroughs next week for their last regular season meet

Pot tax down

(AP) Marijuana tax revenue in Alaska fell for the second straight month in December, though a state tax auditor says the slide may be short lived.

The state says it collected about $784,000 in marijuana tax revenue in December.

That compares to about $869,000 in November and about $920,000 in October, which is the most that has been collected in a single month since the collection of marijuana taxes from state-licensed businesses began in October 2016.

The tax is imposed when marijuana is sold or transferred from a marijuana cultivation facility to a retail pot shop or marijuana product manufacturing facility.

Tax auditor Dustin Heintzelman says preliminary reports indicate tax revenue for January will be around $1 million. He declined to speculate on why revenue tumbled in November and December.

Improving schools

(AP) State education leaders have released what they see as a vision for improving Alaska's public school system.

The report includes recommendations built around the goals of increasing student success; cultivating safety and well-being; and supporting "responsible and reflective learners" with relevant learning opportunities.

There is no timeline for implementation and districts have flexibility in deciding what works best for their students.

Volunteers organized by the Alaska department of education, including parents, teachers and representatives of tribal organizations, worked together to devise the recommendations, which were accepted by the state Board of Education.

State education Commissioner Michael Johnson says the initiative is an opportunity for Alaskans to demand great schools and to rethink the education system. He says the initiative provides a compass for raising expectations and student outcomes.

Not so fishy

(AP) Officials say budget cuts at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game have reduced staffing in the commercial fishing division and caused slashes to smaller fishery programs.

The Peninsula Clarion reports the state has cut the department's general fund by more than 36 percent since 2015, leading to an approximately 6 percent cut for the state Division of Commercial Fisheries.

Division Director Scott Kelley on Thursday outlined the agency's budget to the House Finance Subcommittee on Fish and Game.

Kelley says staffing has been reduced by about 11 percent since fiscal year 2015, causing the division to limit personnel on weirs and other projects.

Kelley says the division also has cut smaller fisheries like herring in order to limit cuts to the lucrative salmon fisheries.

Greenhouse gas

(AP) Alaska has the fourth-highest per capita greenhouse gas emissions in the country, according to a state Department of Environmental Conservation report.

The findings released on Tuesday show only West Virginia, North Dakota and Wyoming have higher per-capita emissions, the Juneau Empire reported .

The report did, however, note that Alaska has made strides in emission practices.

Human-caused greenhouse gas emissions in the state have decreased by 8 percent since 1990, according to the report. And Alaska is 40th out of all 50 states and Washington, D.C., for total greenhouse gas emissions.

Valdez outpaced the Lady Huskies of Delta last week as the home team prepares to host this year's Elks Tournament.

"One of the really significant findings in some ways was the stability that we're seeing in this report," said Denise Koch, director of the Division of Air Quality. "The major emitters are the same, those patterns haven't changed."

In 2014, Alaskans contributed roughly 35 million metric tons of carbon and carbon equivalent. Thirty-nine states had higher overall greenhouse gas emissions, with Texas being the highest at almost 650 million metric tons and D.C. the lowest with just a few metric tons.

Each of the states that came in higher in per-capita emissions has a population below 2 million and comparably large amounts of industry.

Alaska's emissions are a small part of the U.S.'s overall, making up 0.63 percent of total U.S. human-caused emissions.

The updated report, which adds data from 2011-2015 to a report from 1990-2010, will inform Gov. Bill Walker's new Climate Action Leadership team, Koch said.


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