Northwest Digest

Wire reports

Posted: Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Taxes under scrutiny as mine proceeds

KENAI - Northern Dynasty Mineral's Pebble mine project is raising questions about whether Alaska's mining tax laws should be revised to give the state a larger cut of the profits.

Critics say current taxes have generated little state revenue in recent years.

Operating mines in Alaska currently pay a state mining license tax, and just as all other corporations operating in the state, a corporate net income tax. Mines located on state land also pay a 3 percent net income royalty.

Proponents of the status quo say that while the mining industry may not pour great sums into state coffers, local governments get a good share through property taxes and local economies benefit greatly where mines operate.

According to the Alaska Department of Revenue, an estimated $2.9 billion in mineral value was extracted from Alaska claims in 2001 through 2003. During the same period, the industry paid the state a total of $18.4 million in various taxes, royalties and fees. Local governments took in roughly $30 million.

Former lawmaker named to game board

ANCHORAGE - Former state Rep. Carl Morgan was appointed to the Alaska Board of Game, Gov. Frank Murkowski announced Monday.

Morgan, an Aniak Republican, vacated his seat in the House last year in a failed run for the state Senate.

Murkowski reappointed Ted Spraker of Soldotna and Ronald Somerville of Juneau to the game board. The governor also reappointed Melvan Morris of Kodiak, John Jensen of Petersburg and Rupert Andrews of Juneau to the state Board of Fisheries.

The appointments to both panels require confirmation by the Legislature.

Deering water, sewer lines break down

ANCHORAGE - Residents of a northwestern Alaska village were boiling snow and ice after local water and sewage lines broke, state emergency management officials said Monday.

Many of the 145 people who live in Deering were using buckets as toilets while state and local workers tried to deal with the water system rendered inoperable last week. The problem was triggered by a chemical leak and by frozen pipes, said Bob Stewart, response and recovery manager for the state Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.

The agency is working with other state and local agencies to fix the problem.

The high temperature in Deering on Monday was about 5 degrees. Lows were expected to drop to 5 to 15 degrees below zero.

Lower 48 trollers seek disaster aid

GRANTS PASS, Ore. - Commercial salmon fishermen in Oregon and California are seeking federal disaster assistance because of sharp reductions in fishing seasons they blame on continuing water problems in the Klamath Basin.

Claiming commercial salmon trollers from Santa Cruz, Calif., to Florence, Ore., could lose up to $100 million from lost fishing opportunities this summer, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Associations has called on the governors of California and Oregon to support a fisheries disaster declaration from NOAA Fisheries.

"This is a disaster of federal making, caused by a policy of letting too little water remain in the Klamath River," said Glen Spain of the federation representing about 2,000 boats, most of them from California. "We may be facing future fisheries disasters for the same reasons."

California Department of Fish and Game biologists have said the likely cause of the low returns this year is the increasing number of young fish succumbing to parasites as they migrate to the ocean.

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