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Arctic Council Chairmanship Passes to United States

Don’t be April fooled by the State Department over the Arctic


© Paul Souders / AlaskaStock.com

Before this month is over this year’s session of the Alaska State Legislature will be over. Ten days into March I’m wondering how much our elected officials can possibly accomplish by April 19—so little has been done so far. All the bills are still “in committee,” and nobody is cutting $4 billion off the budget or finding a new way to generate $4 billion in revenues—not that anyone can figure that out.

At ABM, we don’t generally cover crime, religion, or politics. At least we do not take sides in politics, so I am not going to endorse anything, rather just point out some things in this year’s state legislative session I noticed that seem likely to pass. Or at least seem like they could without too much trouble because they are short and to the point and appear to be nonpartisan.

SENATE BILL NO. 16—sweet sixteen—pretty short and sweet as bills go and, at only five pages long, you wouldn’t think it would take too awfully long to get it on the floor for a vote. It is A BILL FOR AN ACT ENTITLED “An Act declaring the Arctic policy of the state.”

Then there is HOUSE BILL NO. 1—It, too, is A BILL FOR AN ACT ENTITLED “An Act declaring the Arctic policy of the state.” I do declare: HB1 is SB16 all over again. Déjà vu.

Also, I see SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 16, a companion piece, is shorter at four pages and could be more of a shoe-in because it’s a joint resolution and has a message for Congress. Take a look and decide for yourself: akleg.gov

SJR16 is “A RESOLUTION Expressing support for the Arctic Economic Council; and requesting that the United States Congress express support for the Arctic Economic Council, for the chair of the Arctic Economic Council to be a resident of this state, and for the structure of the Arctic Economic Council leadership to mirror the rotation of the chair of the Arctic Council.”

The Arctic Economic Council was created last year while Canada chaired the Arctic Council—with the intention of shaping development in the Arctic—and coincides with one of the Arctic Council’s working groups: The Sustainable Development Program. Which brings me to what this is all about anyway: the United States takes over chairmanship of the Arctic Council this month. Some say that Alaska, as the only Arctic state of the fifty, ought to have a role in it. But do we? Look at the State Department’s agenda for the United States’ two-year chairmanship—decide for yourself. Before you do that though, look at the April issue. The team at Alaska Business Monthly has put together another really great magazine—enjoy!


This article originally appeared in the April 2015 print edition of Alaska Business Monthly.


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