Study sought for air carrier support for AVO

Posted: Wednesday, February 17, 2010

FAIRBANKS - An Alaska legislator has asked state transportation officials to look into whether air carriers and freight companies can help support the Alaska Volcano Observatory.

Rep. Anna Fairclough, R-Eagle River, wants an analysis from the state Department of Transportation on the option of levying money from airlines and freight companies for the center, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

"If it's a direct benefit to the (Anchorage) airport, then it could be a cost that could, maybe, be transferred or shared," Fairclough told Transportation Commissioner Leo von Scheben at a House Finance Committee meeting on Thursday.

Congress in recent years has provided money through the Federal Aviation Administration for the observatory, which is important for aviation safety in Alaska because it monitors dangerous ash clouds from volcanoes. But federal support for the observatory has fallen from $8 million per year to $5 million, prompting the state Department of Natural Resources to propose a $300,000 contribution this year to help.

The committee is reviewing the state's annual spending plan. Von Scheben said he would research Fairclough's question and submit a response to the full committee.

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