Arctic Daily Update: April 22, 2013
The Senate begins work on a bill that would allow states to collect sales taxes from most online retailers. The House is not in session.
Sustainable Ocean Summit (SOS 2013), April 22-24, 2013 (Washington, D.C.)Sponsored by the World Ocean Council, SOS 2013 is designed to bring together a diverse range of ocean industries: shipping, oil and gas, fisheries, aquaculture, tourism, offshore renewable energy, ports, dredging, mining, cables and pipelines, marine science, engineering and technology, the maritime legal, financial and insurance communities, and others - as well as ocean stakeholders from the government, inter-governmental, academic and environment communities. On Wednesday, April 24th, USARC's John Farrell will be a speaker at "The Arctic Challenges and Opportunities for Responsible Industries."
Begich Aims to Raise US Profile in Arctic by Creating Ambassador. Last month, I discussed Japan's designation of Masuo Nishibayashi as Arctic ambassador -- the second Asian country to create such a position. While Japan joins Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Russia and Singapore as countries with Arctic ambassadors or equivalent positions, the United States still does not have a similar role. Canada once had an ambassador for circumpolar affairs, but eliminated the position in 2006. Yet Canada will soon become the chair of the Arctic Council, and with Minister of Health and MP Leona Aglukkaq slated to become chair, the country does not lack a point person representing national policy in the Arctic. The U.S., by contrast, finds itself lacking a figurehead at the top. Alaska Dispatch
Norway's Ruling Party Backs Oil Drilling Around Arctic Islands. Norway took a major step towards opening up an environmentally sensitive Arctic area to oil and gas exploration when the ruling Labour Party gave the go-ahead on Sunday for an impact study. Exploration in the waters around the Lofoten islands just above the Arctic circle is becoming one of the most contentious issues for parliamentary elections in September. The Tundra Drums
Reaching an Arctic Accord [Editorial]. The central Arctic Ocean has been covered in ice for eons, but under the influence of global warming, nearly half of it is now open water for part of the year. Commercial fishing has not yet begun there, but the urge to begin fishing is almost overwhelming. The waters of the central Arctic, an area the size of the Mediterranean, hold the last untouched fishing stocks on this planet. At present, they also lie beyond the boundaries of settled international law - more than a million square miles outside the reach of the exclusive economic zones that protect the national waters of the five countries with coastlines on the Arctic: the United States, Russia, Canada, Denmark and Norway. New York Times
Greenland Bets on Mining as Global Warming Hits Fishing Industry. Greenland is betting that rising mineral production will help cushion the impact of global warming on its fishing industry and boost economic growth in the Arctic island-nation as its pursues independence from Denmark. "In the past we've relied mainly on fisheries which made the economy very fragile," Prime Minister Aleqa Hammond told reporters in Copenhagen today. "We need another way to stabilize the economy, and that will be mining. There's really no alternative to that." Bloomberg
As The US Pivots East, Russia Pivots North. At the Shangri-la Dialogue held in Singapore last June 2012, former U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta stated that the U.S. intends to shift the bulk of its naval force to the Pacific by2020. Later that year, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confirmed a similar, but political, U.S. pivot to the Asian arena. In February 2013, President Obama met with China's new leader, Xi Jinping, and largely discussed the future development of economic relations between the United States and Asia's largest economy. This is a significant shift in geopolitical attention, and the present administration has good reasons for taking such an interest in Asia. Militarily, the International Institute for Strategic Studies considers an arms race to be in the making as economies develop and associated defense budgets expand. By the end of 2013, India should have its own aircraft carrier, and last year China successfully landed jets on an aircraft carrier of its own. Economically, while Europe and America stagnated in recent years, the economies of Asian countries continued to grow. International Affairs Review
Conoco Cancels Contract for Arctic Drill Rig Under Construction. The reports aren't surprising -- Conoco recently announced it would cancel plans for Arctic drilling in summer 2014, following Royal Dutch Shell's disastrous return to the offshore Arctic. But the announcement by drilling contractor Noble Corp. is another sad blast of reality for a state in need of its next big oil fix. While state leaders put a buoyant spin on Alaska's future, skeptical observers can't ignore the facts as oil production on the North Slope continues its two-decade drop. Alaska Dispatch
Plummeting Gold Prices Won't Disrupt Canadian Arctic Mine. The company behind the Meadowbank mine in Canada's eastern Arctic territory of Nunavut says the recent drop in the price of gold won't have any immediate impact on its plans or operations. On Monday, the price of gold had its biggest one-day drop in 30 years. It's gone up a bit, but still hovers just under $1,400 US an ounce. Gold hit its all-time high in August 2011, just above $1,900 U.S. an ounce. Alaska Dispatch
EU Reviews Its Strategy in the Arctic. The European Union wants to take advantage of energy and shipping opportunities in the arctic but in a way that is environmentally sound, a commissioner said. Neighborhood Policy Commissioner Stefan Fule said the European Union was ready to work with arctic countries as it bids for observer status in the Arctic Council, an intergovernmental panel focused on the region. "We want to work with our arctic partners and with the private sector to develop environmentally-friendly, low-risk technologies that could be used by the extractive industries and the shipping industry," Fule said at the European Parliament. UPI
Editorial: A Bright, Shining Polar Star Icebreaker Ready for Duty. The U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker Polar Star is ready to return to duty after a lengthy overhaul at Vigor Shipyards in Seattle. This is good news on several fronts. As U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., noted, with increased marine traffic through the Arctic and increased energy exploration, "There is no question we need more icebreakers to protect our nation's economic and national-security interests." Senator Mark Begich
No formal legislative action was taken on Arctic legislation Friday.
International Conference on Arctic Ocean Acidification, May 6-8, 2013, Bergen, Norway. The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP), the Institute of Marine Research, the Norwegian Institute for Water Research, the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research, and the University of British Columbia, Canada, host a conference to consider Arctic Ocean acidification. Topics will include response of Arctic Ocean to increasing CO2 and related changes in the global carbon cycle, social and policy challenges, Arctic Ocean acidification and ecological and biogeochemical coupling, implications of changing Arctic Ocean acidification for northern (commercial and subsistence) fisheries, and future developments.
Private Sector Transportation, Infrastructure, Assets, Response, Capacity, and Development in the Arctic, May 30, 2012, Seattle, WA. A recently-held Arctic transportation workshop in Iceland highlighted the need to better understand private sector transportation infrastructure and assets, recognizing industry's role in the responsible development of resources, response and supportive infrastructure. As a follow-up to its efforts to inventory and map Arctic transportation infrastructure, the Institute of the North is hosting a workshop at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center in Seattle, Washington that focuses on three critical areas: private sector assets and infrastructure in the Arctic, staging areas outside the Arctic that support Northern development, and vessels and technology that are difficult to map but need to be measured for future decision-making. Participants include industry representatives, technical experts, researchers, Coast Guard and other response personnel.
AGU Science Policy Conference, June 24-26, 2013. (Washington, DC) Hundreds of Earth and space scientists, students, policymakers, and industry professionals will discuss key Earth and space science topics that address challenges to our economy, national security, environment, and public safety. This meeting will focus on the science that helps inform policymakers' decisions related to energy, natural hazards, technology and infrastructure, climate, oceans, and the Arctic. The event is hosted by American Geophysical Union (AGU), a Washington, D. C.-based international nonprofit scientific association.
5th Symposium on the Impacts of an Ice-Diminishing Arctic on Naval and Maritime Operations, July 16-18, 2013 (Washington, D.C.). The U.S. National/Naval Ice Center (NIC) and the U.S. Arctic Research Commission (USARC) co-host this follow-on symposium to address the changing state of Arctic sea ice and associated environmental conditions vis-a-vis emerging or expected naval, maritime, and associated activities and operations in the region. Invited speakers include nationally and internationally recognized experts on Arctic observations, climate change, and maritime operations.
The Inaugural Meeting of The Arctic Circle, October 12-14, 2013 (Reykjavik, Iceland). The inaugural Arctic Circle will be held October 12-14, 2013. Subsequent Arctic Circle gatherings will be held in a different Arctic location each year, so that participants can become familiar with the challenges, needs and opportunities presented by these unique environments. The agenda for the first Arctic Circle gathering will include plenary sessions with international leaders on emerging topics of interest, such as: Sea ice melt and extreme weather; Security in the Arctic; Fisheries and ecosystem management; Shipping and transportation infrastructure; Arctic Resources; and Tourism.
Arctic Cities, Global Processes, and Local Realities, December 2-4, 2013 (Rovaniemi, Finland) The conference is organized jointly by the City of Rovaniemi and the Arctic Centre of the University of Lapland, Finland. The goal of the conference is to present the latest research scientific knowledge about the global processes as they become local realities. Even if the Conference is scientific in orientation, it aims to bridge science and knowledge into action by bringing top scholars to share their research results, and to organize joint discussion with the leaders of the Arctic Cities. Sessions include: Rovaniemi Process: past, present, future; Arctic responses to global environmental problems; people and extractive industries; tourism in the Arctic; the Arctic in global economy; climate change in the Arctic; indigenous peoples in cities; and, Arctic global flows. Cross cutting themes include: Arctic cities and global processes; management and governance in the Arctic; and, Arctic together with non-Arctic.