Economy & Environment

The downtown Anchorage skyline is seen though thickets of budding willows along the Tony Knowles Coastal Trail on May 6, 2022. (Photo by Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)

Anchorage’s economic outlook depends on attracting workers

BY: - September 6, 2022

Earlier this month, Anchorage Economic Development Corp. shared our 2022 3-Year Outlook report, which forecasts what we expect for the next few years in our city’s economic landscape. Overall, we believe there is much to be optimistic about for the future of Anchorage, but we must be realistic about the types of investments and work […]

Seasonal caretakers Marissa and John Neill of Trapper Creek survey a garden at Pilgrim Hot Springs on Sept. 4, 2021. The area's soil is warmed geothermal heat, creating an oasis within permafrost territory. Crops have been grown at the site, on and off, for more than a century. A Kawerak project is investigating ways to use vegetables grown at Pilgrim Hot Springs to help address food-security needs in the Nome region. (Photo by Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)

Policy changes can help Alaska’s new farmers work in permafrost conditions, UAF experts say

BY: - September 6, 2022

A century ago, when Fairbanks was a young mining town and a hilly area was set aside for agricultural experiments, people tried growing potatoes there to help feed the community. It was not a success. Disturbance of topsoil caused permafrost thaw, producing lots of mud in which tractors became mired, and the melt of below-ground […]

Candidates for Alaska's U.S. House seat, appearing at an Aug. 31 forum held at an Alaska Oil and Gas Association conference, hold up signs to show their position on the Infrastructure Jobs and Investment Act. Only former state Rep. Mary Peltola, at right, supports the act. From left are Republican Nick Begich, Libertarian Chris Bye and Republican former Gov. Sarah Palin. The forum was held just before the Alaska Division of Elections released results showing that Peltola had won the special election to fill the remaining months in Rep. Don Young's term. (Photo by Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)

House candidates make pro-development pitches at Alaska oil industry conference

BY: - September 1, 2022

Shortly before Mary Peltola was announced as the winner in the special election to become Alaska’s sole member of the U.S. House of Representatives for four months, she and the three other candidates vying to succeed the late Don Young for a full term as Alaska made pitches to an oil industry audience on Wednesday. […]

Alaska has special opportunities for developing a thriving aquaculture industry, but also special challenges that stand in the way of such ambitions, according to a new strategic plan issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The plan is intended to guide aquaculture-related research conducted over the next five years by NOAA’s Alaska Fisheries Science Center. It considers ways that science can help achieve the ambitions championed by a state panel seeking to expand the industry. The Governor’s Mariculture Task Force, established in 2016, set a goal of developing a $100 million-per-year Alaska aquaculture industry within 20 years. Doing so will require some boosted research, public education and support for partnerships among government agencies, Indigenous communities, academia, industry and others, said the strategic plan. It identifies specific goals to accomplish those objectives.,%2C%20environmental%2C%20and%20communities%22 For now, the Alaska aquaculture industry is small – just 82 permitted farms, with 24 additional permits pending as of January 2022, the report said. The value of the industry at the start of 2022 was $1.5 million, it said. There is potential for rapid growth, even though finfish farming is illegal and even though Alaska is the only coastal state where aquaculture is unlikely to expand into federal waters in the near future, it said. “The cold and nutrient rich waterways of Alaska are ideally suited for the development of shellfish and algae aquaculture,” it said. But there special challenges include Alaska’s accelerated climate change and ocean acidification, the plan said. Climate-change problems include marine heat waves, more harmful algal blooms and extreme rainfall events, it said. Acidification, which lowers available calcium, poses known threats to shellfish populations and shellfish farms, it said. At the same time, climate change and acidification have created incentives for expanded aquaculture in Alaska, the strategic plan said. There is “strong interest” from local communities and industry to use kelp farming to create local areas that are more protected against acidification, for example. And aquaculture is also seen by the U.S. Department of Energy as a possible tool for carbon sequestration, a strategy that would mitigate climate change, the plan said.Mauka Grunenberg looks at live oysters for sale at Sagaya City Market in Anchorage. The oysters came from a farm in Juneau. (Photo by Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)

NOAA office releases strategic science plan to support Alaska mariculture ambitions

BY: - August 30, 2022

Alaska has special opportunities for developing a thriving aquaculture industry, but also special challenges that stand in the way of such ambitions, according to a new strategic science plan issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The plan is intended to guide aquaculture-related research conducted over the next five years by NOAA’s Alaska Fisheries […]

Lakes and connecting streams in the northeastern part of hte National Petroleum Reserve in Alaska are seen from the air on June 26, 2014. (Photo by Bob Wick/U.S. Bureau of Land Management)

Dry summers could mean trouble for use of lake water for North Slope ice roads, study says

BY: - August 26, 2022

For decades, the oil industry has built ice roads for seasonal travel across Alaska’s North Slope. The ice roads, built and used in the hard-freeze winter seasons, are designed to be thick enough to protect the tundra from vehicle weights but temporary enough to melt away in summer, avoiding the myriad negative impacts created by […]

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings announced on Aug. 23, 2022, that it is donating a significant piece of undeveloped waterfront property in Juneau to Huna Totem. The 2.9-acre piece of property is located at Egan Drive and Whittier Street. (Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority photo)

Cruise line donation at Juneau waterfront aids Huna Totem’s cultural tourism expansion in Alaska

BY: - August 25, 2022

Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings announced on Tuesday that it is donating a significant piece of undeveloped waterfront property in Juneau to Huna Totem, an Alaska Native corporation. In 2019, the cruise line paid $20 million for the property, which was appraised for less than a fifth of that amount.  Mickey Richardson, Huna Totem’s director of […]

The Inuit Circumpolar Council represents Inuit people in Alaska, Canada, Greenland and Russia. (Graphic provided by Inuit Circumpolar Council)

Inuit Circumpolar Council gets new Alaska president and vice president

BY: - August 24, 2022

The Inuit Circumpolar Council’s Alaska branch has new leadership, the organization announced on Tuesday. Marie KasaNnaaluk Greene, a former chief executive of NANA Regional Corp., is the new president, and Nicole Kannik Paniġiuq “Kanayurak” Wojciechowski is the new vice president, the organization said. The ICC represents Inuit people in Alaska, Canada, Greenland and Russia’s Chukotka […]

Fishing boats, seen here on Feb. 23, 2018, are reflected in the water at Kodiak's St. Paul Harbor. (Photo by Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)

To encourage more young fishermen, look to farm programs as models, new study argues

BY: - August 22, 2022

Young Alaskans seeking to break into commercial fishing face a lot of the same barriers that confront young farmers in the Lower 48 states, but they have far fewer resources to help overcome those barriers, according to newly published research. A study by Alaska experts with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration argues that the […]

A Steller sea lion, viewed in 2009 by the crew of the NOAA ship Fairweather, rests on a rock on an Alaska shore. (Photo provided by NOAA)

Steller sea lions most likely victims of human-caused marine mammal deaths in Alaska

BY: - August 18, 2022

Over a five-year period, 867 Alaska sea lions, seals, whales and small cetaceans like dolphins died or were gravely injured from interactions with humans, according to a report newly released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The report, required by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, lists documented cases of human-inflicted harm from 2016 to […]

The Goose Fire is seen burning on Aug. 4 in the Yukon Flats area of northeast Alaska about 41 miles east of Fort Yukon. Smokejumpers were assigned to protect two Native allotments from this and the neighoring Belle Fire. The two fires have merged. (Photo by John Lyons/BLM Alaska Fire Service)

Tundra burns helped make the 2022 Alaska fire season one of the biggest since 1950

BY: - August 15, 2022

Alaska is closing out what is likely to be the state’s seventh-biggest wildfire season since 1950, wrapping up a summer notable for record-breaking fires in the tundra of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta in the southwestern part of the state. In all, more than 3 million acres have been burned by wildfires this year, according to the […]

Senators Lisa Murkowski and Joe Manchin sit together on stage at Anchorage's Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center at an April 8 banquest during the Arctic Encounter Symposium. Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat who attended the event with Murkowski, repeatedly praised the Alaska Republican and called for federal policies to boost fossil-fuel production. He said he supports Murkowski's push for oil development in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. He has campaigned across party lines for Murkowski's reelection. (Photo by Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)

As Congress prepares to pass climate bill, Alaska environmentalists see more harm than good

BY: and - August 11, 2022

The $370 billion climate bill that passed the U.S. Senate on Sunday is America’s biggest-ever response to climate change, expected to both reduce the national deficit and significantly cut greenhouse-gas emissions. But here in Alaska, environmental organizers are worried that tradeoffs in the bill will lead to more mining and drilling in the state in […]

Sand-filled Super Sacks, seen on Aug. 4, are piled along the eroding coastal bluff in the core area of Utqiagvik, the nation's northernmost community. Near the horizon is a barge delivering some of the supplies that the community will need over the coming year. Climate change, through increased wave action from the ocean and permafrost thaw on the coast, is causing serious erosion and flooding threats. At the same time, reductions in sea ice have enabled an increase in Arctic ship traffic that is expected to continue. (Photo by Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)

Arctic Commitment Act introduced in Senate seeks to raise U.S. profile at top of world

BY: - August 10, 2022

A wide-ranging bill introduced by Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Sen. Angus King seeks to boost U.S. investment in Arctic commerce, science and defense. The Arctic Commitment Act, introduced last week, focuses on ways that the United States can become a bigger player in Arctic marine shipping and commerce, which is increasing as sea ice diminishes. […]