ADN by Don Hunter.  Two of the state’s top politicians Tuesday said the state should finance an aggressive round of scientific research of Cook Inlet’s beluga whales to counter a federal conclusion that the whales are endangered and need special habitat protections.  Congressman Don Young (NGP Photo-r) and Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan (NGP Photo-l), speaking at a joint news conference at City Hall, also said they are asking the government to extend for 60 days a comment period on designating critical habitat for the whales. The Anchorage Assembly earlier unanimously passed a resolution asking for the extension on comments, which now is set to expire Feb. 1.  (The Beluga designation is another Obama administration attack on Alaska’s economy.  See our evaluation of the cumulative effect of the President’s economic death by a thousand cuts.  -dh

Alaska Dispatch by Jill Burke.  "Don’t take the word of the federal government, that’s the worst thing you can do," U.S. Representative Don Young, R-Alaska, told a group of reporters and Alaska Native business leaders Tuesday….

Washington Post (12/21) reports, “Now — after a year in which a climate-change summit in Copenhagen fell short of most expectations, and with a climate bill stalled in the U.S. Senate — the EPA might shoulder more of the burden for an administration with historic environmental ambitions. It has already laid plans to tackle greenhouse gases, smog, "mountaintop" coal mining, and the long-running fight to save the Chesapeake Bay. But the difficulties of dealing with coal ash illustrate why such problems can linger unsolved. "I don ‘t think I’ve ever seen this many major proposals coming out this quickly," said Jeffrey R. Holmstead, who headed the EPA’s air-pollution efforts under Bush, and works for the law firm Bracewell & Giuliani. "They’re going to need lots of staff. They’re going to need an enormous effort, the likes of which I think they’ve never seen, in such a short period," said Eileen Claussen of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change and a former EPA staffer.

KTUU Anchorage (12/22) reports, “It seems like every few weeks there’s been a new twist in what has become a long, litigated process. The Outer Continental Shelf in question is the area 20-70 miles off Alaska’s north and west coasts, where offshore drilling proponents say there is potentially 25 billion barrels of oil on tap and another 130 trillion cubic feet of gas. This year, the process of tapping these resources began with senate confirmation of the man who will oversee activity on the OCS. (Interior Secretary Ken Salazar was confirmed in January and promised to visit Alaska as he shaped the nation’s policy on oil and gas drilling. Almost immediately, he put OCS drilling on hold, saying he needed more input from communities affected by exploration.