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State to present terms to companies on gas line
ANCHORAGE - The state will present terms to major oil companies for a natural gas pipeline from Alaska's North Slope within the next week, according to Gov. Frank Murkowski.
ConocoPhillips, BP and ExxonMobil support Murkowski's idea of the state owning a share of the pipeline, according to a written statement released by Murkowski's office.
An agreement would not mean pipeline construction would begin, but it would set out terms, such as production and property tax rates, hiring commitments, and the availability of some gas for local use.
Murkowski said the companies will respond to the proposal within a week of receiving it.
But oil company spokesmen were noncommittal.
"Fiscal contract negotiations are continuing, and we plan to have a comprehensive proposal available for legislative review early in the coming session," said Dave MacDowell, BP's Alaska gas spokesman.
Kristi DesJarlais, spokeswoman for Conoco in Houston, issued a similar statement.
Murkowski said the state wants to submit a final contract proposal to the Legislature early in the next session, which begins Jan. 10.
Government, Native land swap proposed
FAIRBANKS - A regional Alaska Native corporation and the federal government have proposed a land swap in which the government would pick up land in the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge in exchange for acreage that can be developed for oil and gas.
Doyon, the regional Native corporation based in Fairbanks, would receive 110,000 acres of land with oil and gas potential that surrounds some of its existing holdings within the refuge.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service would obtain 150,000 acres of Doyon land within the refuge under the proposal.
"The service believes that, when all elements of the agreement are viewed in aggregate, the agreement will benefit the Yukon Flats refuge," the agency said in a news release Wednesday.
Under the proposal, Doyon would obtain title to 110,0000 acres in the uplands near where Beaver Creek exits the White Mountains.
Anchorage teen charged in stepmother's death
ANCHORAGE - A 16-year-old boy was arrested Thursday and charged with murder in the death of his stepmother, whose body was found in a small freezer in the family rec room.
Colin Roger Cotting of Anchorage was charged with eight counts, including first-degree murder, assault, burglary, vehicle theft and tampering with evidence in the death of Carol Cotting.
"It's a significant case," said Detective Sgt. Scott Jessen. "I think the community will follow this case closely."
Authorities believe Carol Cotting, 42, was killed Sunday night, but her body wasn't found until Wednesday evening after her husband returned from a business trip and made the grisly discovery.
Stephen Cotting, 47, earlier that day had reported his wife missing from their east Anchorage home.
Colin Cotting, who lives with his mother, at first denied knowing anything about his stepmother's disappearance.
"He just couldn't keep his story straight," Jessen said.
The teen eventually told officers he was "too stoned" on marijuana to remember much, although he had vague recollections of using a bat during a fight with Carol Cotting after she confronted him about being high, according to charging documents. A bat, possibly stained with blood, was found under a bed.
Caribou protection program paying off
WHITEHORSE, Yukon - An effort to bulk up numbers in the Chisana caribou herd is paying off for the second consecutive year, Canadian biologists said.
Surveys by Alaska wildlife officials involved with the international effort indicate 22 of the 29 calves born in captivity are still alive, said biologist Rick Farnell.
In the project's 2003 inaugural year, and again this year, statistics show calves born captive in a makeshift wilderness pen have a much greater chance of survival than calves born in the wild, Farnell said.
Harmon resigns amid fake e-mail allegations
FAIRBANKS - Kip Harmon, who recently resigned as associate athletic director at the University of Fairbanks, has stepped down from the Fairbanks North Star Borough's school board.
Harmon, 44, acknowledged that he had used an e-mail alias to offer fitness tips to women in announcing the resignation.
The announcement follows a report investigated by University of Alaska Fairbanks police last week that Harmon had pretended to be a well-known female fitness expert in messages to several women in Fairbanks. The report also alleges that Harmon felt women's muscles, took their measurements and commented about their fitness level.
"Over the course of the past few days, various allegations have surfaced," a Harmon read from a statement Wednesday at his lawyer's office. "I have reviewed those allegations and I am here today to acknowledge my part in what I have done, admit my mistakes and apologize to the people I have misled."
Harmon had not yet taken his seat at the school board. At UAF, his duties included serving as director of next month's Top of World Classic college basketball tournament. He had worked at the university for 16 years.