Northwest Digest

Posted: Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Alaska crude oil sets record high price

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ANCHORAGE - The price of crude oil from Alaska's North Slope set a new record high on Tuesday, closing at $81.01 a barrel.

It gained almost $1 in trading from Monday, which had set a previous high at $80.07.

Monday's jump had come in anticipation of the Federal Reserve's decision on interest rates on Tuesday, and the government's report on crude oil and gasoline inventories.

The Fed on Tuesday cut interest rates by a half point, which could have a double impact on oil prices, analysts say. By stimulating economic growth, lower interest rates would increase demand for oil and petroleum products.

The price of North Slope crude, delivered to West Coast refineries, is still well below inflation-adjusted highs of about $100 a barrel in the early 1980s.

Alaska oil prices have jumped dramatically over the past three years after rising to more than $40 per barrel in May 2004.

Alaska Airlines to test in-flight Internet

SEATTLE - Alaska Airlines said Tuesday it will become the first U.S. carrier to test a satellite-based in-flight wireless Internet service on one of its planes next year and may equip its entire fleet.

The Seattle-based airline plans to install Westlake Village, Calif.-based Row 44 Inc.'s broadband service on a Boeing 737 jet next spring, and if it works well may add it to all of its 114 aircraft.

Row 44's system is designed to work over water and across international borders. Alaska Airlines said that will allow it to offer the service throughout its network, which includes Alaska, Hawaii, Canada and Mexico.

Customers with Wi-Fi-enabled devices, such as laptops or smart phones, will connect to the system through wireless hotspots in the aircraft cabin. A dome-shaped device mounted on top of the plane will house the antenna that receives and transmits satellite signals.

Alaska Airlines, the nation's ninth-largest carrier, is researching various pricing options ranging from free service for some passengers to a day pass, spokeswoman Amanda Tobin Bielawski said.

Western groups signal auto-emission lawsuit

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Western environmental groups said Tuesday they intend to sue the Bush administration if states are not given federal waivers to combat auto emissions.

The Western Environmental Law Center, representing climate-change groups in California, Washington and Oregon, told the Environmental Protection Agency the activists will sue the government in 180 days if the administration doesn't allow tough new tailpipe standards to go into effect.

The three states, along with New York and other populous states, want to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions that are caused by cars and light trucks. The new standards, recently upheld by a court in Vermont, would take effect in 2009.

Tom Geiger, of the Washington Environmental Council, said the EPA has vowed to make its decision on the federal waivers this year, but that activists fear foot-dragging and will continue to gird for a lawsuit.

California already has filed a similar official notice of intent to sue and a variety of plaintiffs will unite in the litigation if it comes to that, Geiger said.

A number of Western states have banded together to combat greenhouse emissions in the region, including emissions from power plants and cars.

California's pioneering effort to limit tailpipe emissions has been adopted by Oregon, Washington, Vermont Maine, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The federal government can pre-empt the field, or allow states to adopt more vigorous standards.

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