Alaska Digest

Posted: Sunday, January 21, 2007

Task force concludes its fugitive roundup

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JUNEAU - A roundup of fugitives in Southeast Alaska has concluded, federal law enforcement officials said Friday.

Eleven fugitives were rounded up around Juneau, said Marc Otte, chief deputy with the U.S. Marshal's service for the District of Alaska. Three fugitives were arrested in the Fairbanks area, one of them a man from Texas wanted on a child molestation charge.

The operation started Tuesday and ended Thursday, Otte said. The work was done by the Alaska Fugitive Task Force, a joint-agency effort run by the U.S. Marshal's Service. It contains Alaska State Troopers and specially deputized officers from the Anchorage Police Department. The task force is aided locally by the Juneau Police Department.

Otte said some criminals see Alaska, especially the southeast region, as a place to escape prosecution.

"Eleven people in a matter of days is a pretty good hit. People believe Alaska is a place where you can come and hide," Otte said. "The Fugitive Task Force is made up of enough agencies where that isn't possible."

Other than a brief scuffle where one suspect had to be forcibly handcuffed, all the arrests happened without incident.

Companies file for gas license extension

JUNEAU - ConocoPhillips and Marathon Oil want to extend their license to export Kenai liquefied natural gas for another two years, saying Cook Inlet gas reserves are sufficient to meet in-state and export demands.

The application before the U.S. Department of Energy would extend the current five-year license through March 2011.

The two companies jointly own the Nikiski facility where natural gas is converted into a liquid then shipped to Japan.

Darren Jones, a vice president at ConocoPhillips, said the companies are asking for a two-year extension, instead of five, partly to ease the administrative process and partly to ease consumers' concerns about the amount of gas left in the inlet.

"Our view is, yes, there's more than enough gas, a 10 to 11 year supply of gas, and we feel confident in moving ahead," Jones said.

The company estimates gas reserves total 1.6 to 1.7 trillion cubic feet, said Jones. Just under ten percent is used every year with about half of that processed into liquid for export and the rest going to local utility companies, he said.

Rep. Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski, said the LNG facility is important to the region's economy. The plant employs 58 people, supports another 128 jobs in the Kenai and contributes about $50 million in royalties and taxes to the state and communities, according to company officials.

Groups to buy land to protect wildlife

KODIAK - The federal government will join with private foundations for a fourth time to buy Alaska Native corporation land on Afognak Island near Perenosa Bay, the Department of Interior said Friday.

The purchase, when complete, will protect public access to more than 100 miles of continuous coastline, said Deputy Secretary of the Interior Lynn Scarlett in a news conference in Washington, D.C.

The $917,000 in government money will be matched by $417,000 from the American Land Conservancy and Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation. Together, they hope to buy about 2,000 acres around Portage Lake and the Portage River. The land is owned by Natives of Kodiak Inc., the village corporation created by Native residents in Kodiak.

Tim Richardson, government affairs director for the conservancy, estimated that the money in hand now is roughly enough to buy half the area. The actual price per acre is subject to appraisal, he said.

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