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KNBA News - As the legislative session starts, the state faces a $3.5 billion deficit

Jan. 20, 2016

Legislators challenged by budget deficit caused by low oil prices

By Associated Press

The Alaska legislative session started yesterday (Jan. 19) in Juneau. Legislative leaders are seeking to strike a conciliatory tone at the start of what could be a contentious session, as the state grapples with an estimated $3.5 million budget deficit amid low oil prices.

Market experts:  Oil could go lower but prices will rebound

By Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington, D.C.

Yesterday, the price of oil fell to $28 dollars a barrel. It may continue to slide. But a top government energy economist predicts the price of crude will rise to $40 a barrel by the end of this year, and to $50 a barrel by the end of next year.

“Can we have $30 a barrel oil continuing indefinitely into the future, and I think the answer to that is no, said Adam Sieminski, head of the U.S. Energy Information Administration. He testified in Washington Tuesday (Jan. 19) at a hearing of the Senate Energy Committee. Sieminski, though, added a big caveat to his forecast.

“The uncertainty in crude oil prices as we look out over the next year or two is very high,” said Sieminski.

One of the unknowns is how much Iran will ramp up production. Forecasts range from half a million barrels a day to three million a day. Sieminski said he expects U.S. crude production to fall through most of 2017. But he said it’s price, not policy, that is driving domestic production down.


U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments on federal authority in federal parks and preserves

By Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Supreme Court this morning is hearing arguments in a case challenging the National Park Service’s authority to ban hovercraft in Alaska’s federal parks and preserves. The case began in 2007, when park rangers found Anchorage moose hunter John Sturgeon and his boat on a gravel bar in the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve. They told him the Park Service doesn’t allow hovercraft travel.

Sturgeon, backed by briefs from the state of Alaska and many for-profit Native corporations, said the Park Service is over-reaching, in violation of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. Native corporations say if Sturgeon loses, it could extend Park Service regulation to the millions of acres they own inside federal conservation units. However, an attorney representing subsistence users said if Sturgeon wins, it could undermine the federal subsistence priority on rivers across the state.


First Alaskans Institute plans racial equity summit

By Joaqlin Estus, KNBA – Anchorage

The First Alaskans Institute is inviting the public to join in discussions on ways to use education, law and policy, and public advocacy to work toward racial equity and leave a better world to future generations. KNBA’s Joaqlin Estus reports.

The First Alaskans Institute Alaska Native Policy Director, Andrea Sanders, said the Institute has invited public policy-makers, and representatives of business and communities of color, as well as the general public, to attend “Partners for the next 10,000 years…A Racial Equity Summit.” Sanders said the goal is to help bring Alaskans together and prompt action to achieve a racially equitable society for all Alaskans.

“Our goal is to really change people’s perspective on racial equity issues and really bringing them to a point of having a personal or professional commitment to this work,” said Sanders, “so they can join us in instilling racial equity as a value of all Alaskans.”

Racial equity can be a tough topic to discuss. Speakers will discuss white privilege, institutional racism, micro-aggressions, and internalized oppression. But Sanders said creative and non-traditional speakers from places such as New York, New Zealand, and the Blackfeet and Suquamish reservations will share powerful stories that inform and inspire, as well as instruct. And, Sanders said, the sketch comedy group 1491 will lighten the mood.

“We’re finding ways to bring humor which is one of our Native values into the space , on a topic that’s not always very easy to discuss,” said Sanders. “So we’re trying to break down, break down the barriers, and bringing in humor, bringing in international and national perspectives so it’s easier for folks, a little bit easier to digest and receiving it in different ways to communication.

The First Alaskans’ Institute racial equity summit is scheduled for February first and second in Anchorage.

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