Monthly Archives: July 2007

Toxic Waste in Cook Inlet

In late June, Cook Inletkeeper joined Alaska Native tribes and fishing groups to challenge the Environmental Protection Agency’s re-issued Clean Water Act permit that will allow the oil and gas industry to almost triple the amount of toxic waste dumped into Cook Inlet’s rich and productive fisheries each year. Cook Inlet is the only coastal waterbody in the nation where the oil and gas industry may legally dump its toxic waste, even though oil and gas prices remain at record highs and the technology exists to reinject the wastes back into formation. Despite the relatively lax permit terms enjoyed by industry, it has violated its permit thousands of times over the past decade. Inletkeeper is now working with counsel at Trustees for Alaska to challenge the re-issued permit in federal court. For more information, see:

(Source:  Cook Inletkeeper Update, July 17, 2007)

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Are They Here Yet? Pharmaceutical Industries Lobby in States

While the pharmaceutical industry has long been influential in Washington, D.C., it is redirecting many of its lobbying resources toward states in order to achieve its goals more quickly, according to a recent report in The Wall Street Journal. Representatives of the drug companies’ trade group, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, note that state legislatures move much faster than Congress, and are much easier to influence given that legislation may evolve from its beginning stages to a signed piece of legislation in under 90 days. Read the rest of this entry

Retirement Security Update for Alaska Public Employees

On the last day of the 25th Alaska Legislature Senator Kim Elton and cosponsor Senator Lesil McGuire introduced SB183, an act which would repeal the “401K savings plan” imposed on new teachers and public employees hired after June 30 2006. SB183 would restore a safe, secure Defined Benefit plan which would allow our seniors to retire with dignity.

The legislation which imposed the “401K” savings plan was sponsored by the previous Administration and promised to “stop the bleeding” of the pension plans and bring relief to employers. It did neither, and narrowly passed, requiring 3 special sessions before it passed by ONE vote. The previous Administration did not give legislators all the facts. Read the rest of this entry

Infrastructure Cost and Climate Change in Alaska

ISER Research Matters No. 24. How Much Might Climate Change Add to Future Costs for Public Infrastructure?
June 27, 2007

Scientists expect Alaska’s climate to get warmer over time—and the changing climate could make it roughly 10% to 20% more expensive to build and maintain public infrastructure in Alaska between now and 2030 and 10% more expensive between now and 2080. These are preliminary estimates of how much climate warming could increase the future costs for roads, harbors, schools, the power grid, sewer systems, and all the other public infrastructure that keeps Alaska functioning. Read the rest of this entry

Your Chance to Influence Health Insurance Policy in Alaska

The issue of affordable health insurance has assumed national importance. Several states are developing innovative strategies to provide health insurance to their uninsured residents. Now it’s Alaska’s turn.

The Health Planning and Systems Development Unit within the Department of Health and Social Services, through a grant from the Health Resources and Services Administration, is holding a series of regional forums, one in each of Alaska’s economic regions, to discuss and share information on access to health insurance for the uninsured in our state. The Departments of Labor and Commerce, Community & Economic Development are also participating in the forums. The forums are part of an ongoing effort that includes surveys, focus groups, interviews with key individuals and organizations, and other forums on the challenges of providing affordable health insurance for all Alaskans. Forums are scheduled for the following locations, dates and times: Read the rest of this entry