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Renda, Russian Tanker, Begins Fuel Transfer To Nome, Alaska

1.3 million gallons of fuel Crews began transferring 1.3 million gallons of fuel Monday from a Russian fuel tanker to the iced-in western Alaska city of Nome.The offloading began near sundown, said Stacey Smith of Vitus Marine, the fuel supplier that arranged to have the Russian tanker Renda and its crew deliver the gasoline and diesel fuel. The process began after crews safety-tested two transfer hoses with pressurized air.Earlier, crews laid the hoses along a stretch of Bering Sea ice. On Monday, they hooked the hoses to a pipeline that begins on a rock causeway 550 yards from the tanker, which is moored about half a mile offshore, said Jason Evans, board chairman of the Sitnasuak Native Corp.Sitnasuak owns the local fuel company, Bonanza Fuel, and has been working closely with Vitus Marine. The pipeline leads to storage tanks in town.Smith said the transfer began with one hose to see how the fuel flowed. She expected the second hose to begin flowing soon after.State officials said the transfer must start during daylight, but can continue in darkness. Nome has just five hours of daylight this time of year.The transfer could be finished within 36 hours if everything goes smoothly, but ...

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Obama To Expand Drilling Off Alaska, In Gulf

Five-year offshore drilling plan The Obama administration on Tuesday announced its five-year offshore drilling plan, which includes an emphasis on drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska, continuing the administration's policy of expanding domestic production of energy.Less than two years after the BP oil disaster, the Proposed Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program will make more than 75 percent of oil and gas resources that are undiscovered and technically recoverable now available for exploration and development.Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar praised the program as an important step toward economic recovery."Expanding safe and responsible oil and gas production from the program is a key component of our comprehensive energy strategy to grow America's energy economy, and will help us continue to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and create jobs here at home," he said in a statement.Environmental activists immediately criticized the proposal as lacking proper safety protocol."Congress has failed to pass a single law to better protect workers or the environment," said Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council in a statement. "Industry has not invested sufficiently in developing the technologies needed to prevent future disasters."Beinecke also added that now is not the ...

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Rat infestation leaves rogue ship stranded off Alaska

The ship was using illegal drift nets to scoop fish A rogue fishing vessel caught in the North Pacific four weeks ago was stranded off the coast of Alaska on Monday while authorities prepared to remove the crew and kill a large number of rats on board, a U.S. Coast Guard spokeswoman said.The 140-foot Bangun Perkasa was found in early September using illegal drift nets to scoop fish from international waters about 2,600 miles southwest of Kodiak, Alaska, authorities say.A Coast Guard crew that boarded the ship found some 30 shark carcasses, 30 tons of squid and 10 miles of outlawed monofilament drift net, along with the rat infestation.The Coast Guard cutter crew, alerted by Japanese officials patrolling the area by air, escorted the ship to the Dutch Harbor area, where it arrived on Sunday, U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Sara Francis said.High-seas drift net fishing, considered highly damaging to fish stocks, marine mammals and other sea life, is banned by various international treaties and by U.S. law.The rats found on board pose another environmental problem: Potential invasion by a nonnative species that could wipe out large numbers of Alaska seabirds and other natural life.It is unclear how many rats ...

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Alaska Fuel Barge: Crowley Marine Vessel breaks loose in rough seas off state s west coast

Winds of 27 mph and 12 to 15-foot waves were reported A barge carrying tens of thousands of gallons of fuel has broken loose from a tugboat in rough seas off Alaska's west coast and was drifting south toward the Bering Strait.The tugboat shadowed the barge overnight after it went loose Tuesday evening in 15-foot waves and winds that reached 46 mph. The tug has been able to maintain some control by pushing the 173-foot barge, and crew members were waiting for better weather before attempting to reconnect a tow line, Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Kip Wadlow said.The Crowley Marine-operated vessel was carrying 140,000 gallons of aviation fuel and 5,800 gallons of gasoline. The Coast Guard, mindful of the amount of fuel that could be spilled, sent a C-130 airplane to the area on Wednesday."With the potential that this barge could run aground, the Coast Guard is working with and monitoring the Crowley tug crew as they attempt to re-establish the tow in safer weather conditions," Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Lally said.The crew of the 82-foot tug Sinuk contacted the Coast Guard at 6:23 p.m. Tuesday to report the barge had broken loose from its tow line about ...

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Obama hopes to simplify drilling decisions in Alaska

Industry looks to expand operations in the Arctic President Barack Obama on Tuesday called on federal agencies to better coordinate oil and gas permitting and other regulatory oversight as the industry looks to expand operations in the Arctic and as environmentalists ramp up their opposition.The White House said a federal working group, which will be overseen by Deputy Interior Secretary David Hayes, will simplify oil and gas decision-making in Alaska by bringing together federal agencies to collaborate as they evaluate permits and environmental reviews.The working group's formation comes partly in response to criticism about delays in federal air quality and construction permits both onshore and offshore in the Arctic."Time will tell if this working group helps streamline and expedite the process, as I hope it will, or if it adds another level of bureaucracy and red tape," said Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska. "In the meantime, I commend the president for taking a positive step in the right direction."The working group also comes as a coalition of 19 environmental groups announced plans this week to uniformly oppose offshore drilling in the Arctic. The coalition - which includes the Sierra Club, the Audubon Society, Greenpeace and the Ocean Conservancy - said the ...

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