James Brooks

James Brooks

James Brooks is a longtime Alaska reporter, having previously worked at the Anchorage Daily News, Juneau Empire, Kodiak Mirror and Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. A graduate of Virginia Tech, he is married to Caitlyn Ellis, owns a house in Juneau and has a small sled dog named Barley. He can be contacted at [email protected].

Two people ride an all-terrain vehicle on Utqiagvik's beach on Aug. 2, 2022. On the right are some of the large sandbags piled at the base of the eroding permafrost bluff. The sandbags, replenished every year, are part of Utqiagvik's protections against storm surges and further thaw-triggered erosion. (Photo by Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)

Alaska natural resources agency OKs bigger off-road vehicles on most state land

By: - July 31, 2023

Alaskans can now use larger and heavier recreational off-road vehicles on most state land without a specialty permit, a move intended to accommodate the growth of side-by-side off-road vehicles. In late July, the Alaska Department of Natural Resources issued new general permissions that allow vehicles up to 80 inches wide and up to 2,500 pounds […]

An exploration site at ConocoPhillips' Willow prospect is seen from the air in the 2019 winter season. (Photo by Judy Patrick/provided by ConocoPhillips Alaska Inc.)

State appeals federal court ruling that allows ConocoPhillips to keep Willow drilling data secret

By: - July 27, 2023

The Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is appealing the decision of a federal judge who ruled in March that ConocoPhillips, a major North Slope oil producer, may keep some drilling data secret. According to a filing dated Wednesday, the commission is appealing the decision by U.S. District Judge Sharon Gleason to the 9th U.S. […]

A transgender pride flag is held in an undated photo. (Getty Images)

State board postpones vote on rule barring transgender girls from girls’ high school sports teams

By: - July 26, 2023

Alaska’s state school board unexpectedly delayed a vote on a proposed regulation that would prohibit transgender girls from playing on girls’ high school sports teams. Board chairman James Fields said the delay was warranted by “hard questions” about whether the regulation could violate students’ right to privacy, among other legal issues. “I’d be in favor […]

Michael Valore, senior director of advanced reactors energy systems, and Danielle Kline, test engineer, stand on May 24 at a booth promoting Westinhouse's microreactor technology. Westinghouse plans to bid on a contract to build a nuclear microreactor at Eielson Air Force Base. Valore and Kline, from Pennsylvania, were in Anchorage for the Alaska Sustainable Energy Conference. (Photo by Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)

Alaska sets rules for new nuclear facilities; vulnerable coasts are out

By: - July 26, 2023

You can build a small nuclear reactor in Alaska, but not within 2,700 feet of a house. On Monday, Lt. Gov. Nancy Dahlstrom signed a package of regulations that dictate where small nuclear reactors, sometimes called “microreactors,” may be built in Alaska. The regulations arrive as the U.S. Air Force advances plans to build the […]

two pairs of wool booties with evidence bags

Alaska accuses souvenir store of selling fake Native art and products from ‘Yakutat alpacas’

By: - July 25, 2023

A state judge has ordered a tourist shop outside Denali National Park to stop selling products labeled as “made in Alaska” after the state of Alaska accused the shop of repeatedly selling fake souvenirs and art. According to a complaint filed by the Alaska Department of Law on Thursday in Fairbanks, the owners of a […]

An electric bicycle stands in Alaska eBike in Anchorage. Electric bikes have not been formally regulated in Alaska, despite their increasing popularity. (Photo by Sophia Carlisle/Alaska Beacon)

Dunleavy nixes Alaska e-bike bill with rare veto as sponsor says she will seek override

By: - July 24, 2023

Gov. Mike Dunleavy on Friday vetoed just the fourth bill of his five-year tenure, canceling legislation intended to deregulate electric bike use in Alaska. The governor has frequently used line-item veto powers to shrink the state budget but has rarely vetoed policy bills. Thirty-nine other states have passed laws similar to the bill the governor […]

Judge dismisses lawsuit over liability for contaminated Alaska Native corporation lands

By: - July 22, 2023

A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed a year-old lawsuit by the state of Alaska against the federal government over liability for contaminated land given to Alaska Native corporations under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. No Alaska Native corporations or Native groups joined the lawsuit, and in an order published July 18, Judge Hezekiah Russel […]

University of Alaska picks Philadelphia-sized section of Interior Alaska to own under new law

By: - July 21, 2023

The University of Alaska has begun using a new federal law to take over unused land, and its first pick is spooky. According to a public notice posted Wednesday, the University has requested to take over about 100,000 acres near Spooky Valley, west of the Dalton Highway in the Ray Mountains of Interior Alaska. It’s […]

Alaska AG opposes keeping abortion-related medical records private across state lines elsewhere

By: - July 20, 2023

Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor joined 18 other Republican attorneys general last month in a letter calling on the federal government to preserve state governments’ access to private medical records.  That access could be used to restrict access to abortion and gender transition care. The attorneys general are opposing a proposed federal rule that would […]

A U.S. Customs and Border Protection officer instructs an international traveler to look into a camera as he uses facial recognition technology to screen a traveler entering the United States on Feb. 27, 2018, at Miami International Airport in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

Facial recognition remains unregulated in Alaska, even as it grows in use

By: - July 19, 2023

Alaska Airlines is planning to use facial recognition technology by summer 2024, part of a system intended to speed preflight check-ins. The company is optimistic about the program, noting that it is “working to get (customers) through the lobby and to security in 5 minutes or less,” but privacy experts say it’s an example of a […]

Kelly Tshibaka waves at passing motorists in Midtown Anchorage on Aug. 16. With her is her daughter. (Photo by Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)

Another campaign complaint filed against opponents of Alaska ranked choice voting

By: - July 17, 2023

Supporters of Alaska’s ranked choice voting system are again alleging that opponents of the system are violating state campaign law. On Monday, Alaskans for Better Elections filed a complaint against former Republican U.S. Senate candidate Kelly Tshibaka, a nonprofit that she operates, and Alaskans for Honest Elections, which is campaigning to repeal ranked choice voting […]

The rising sun creeps across the U.S. Supreme Court on Nov. 8, 2022, in Washington, D.C. The Court is hearing a case today that challenges the legality of the Indian Child Welfare Act which prioritizes the placement of Native American children in foster care or adoption with relatives, other tribal members, or in other Native homes. (Photo by Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

Alaska attorneys expect little impact from U.S. Supreme Court ruling on stalking

By: - July 15, 2023

In a decision last month, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the stalking conviction of a Colorado man, saying that local courts had incorrectly considered the First Amendment. Following the decision, some national commentators warned that the court had “declared stalking to be protected by the First Amendment,” because prosecutors will now be required to prove […]