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Begich Hosts Arctic Deepwater Port Roundtable

U.S. Sen. Mark Begich is hosting an Arctic Deepwater Port Roundtable discussion with Alaskans to discuss how increased marine traffic and economic opportunities in the changing Arctic will create a need and demand for an Arctic port in Alaska.

In the discussion with representatives from federal agencies, Alaska Native Corporations, and the shipping industry, Sen. Begich will outline some of the work he has done as chair of the Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard, consideration of the Fiscal Year 2013 budget and future budgets as additional authorizations will be needed from Congress to move forward on Arctic infrastructure.

The roundtable is scheduled for Monday, April 9 from 3 to 4 pm at the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program (ANSEP) Atrium, 311 Providence Drive, on the campus of UAA.

“There is no time like the present to discuss the future of the Arctic,” Begich said. “We know increased shipping traffic, oil and gas development, tourism, and research in the Arctic will lead to a significant jump in vessel activity through the region. In the last ten years, traffic has already increased from just a handful of vessels every year to over 1,000 expected this summer.”

Alaska sits at the Pacific entrance of the Northern Sea Route atop Russia and Canada’s Northwest Passage.  Russia is looking to move increasing freight traffic through the Northern Sea route including LNG from terminal facilities in Murmansk and elsewhere.  The Canadian government has announced plans for a deepwater port at the eastern entrance on Baffin Island. A deepwater port in Alaska is an essential piece of the infrastructure needed to facilitate development of the Arctic, according to Begich.

The roundtable will include about a dozen participants including government leaders, the State of Alaska, and other organizations with significant roles in the future of the Arctic including:

  • Rear Admiral Tom Ostebo, U.S. Coast Guard
  • Colonel Reinhard Koenig, Army Corps of Engineers
  • Matthew Forney, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
  • James Hemsath, Alaska Industrial Development and Export Authority

Sen. Begich said the roundtable is the first of several he plans to hold on Arctic infrastructure needs. As chair of the Senate Oceans Subcommittee, Begich has oversight responsibility for both the U.S. Coast Guard and NOAA.

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