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Begich Meets with Top White House Advisor on the Arctic

Reminds Official to Keep Research, Oil and Gas Development at Forefront

Though generally supportive of the goals outlined in the report, Senator Begich today told the Obama administration they need to back up a recently released Arctic Strategy with additional science, funding for the icebreakers, and should raise America’s international profile with a new Arctic ambassador.

U.S. Senator Mark Begich delivered this message today to one of the administration’s top officials on Arctic policy, Nancy Sutley, chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Begich called Sutley to his office today to deliver his priorities for the Arctic as Sutley and a delegation of high-ranking administration officials travel to Alaska later this week to hear from Alaskans.

“Broad platitudes about the importance of the Arctic are fine, but this administration’s Arctic Strategy needs teeth to make it effective,” Begich said. “America is an Arctic nation only because of Alaska, so it’s encouraging this delegation is traveling to our state to listen to those directly affected by climate change in the Arctic and its implications for Alaskans.”

In May, the administration issued an 11-page Arctic Strategy which broadly addresses the nation’s security interests, stewardship in the Arctic and international cooperation.

Begich welcomed the report, but encouraged its authors to add specifics and propose the resources to implement it. For example, the Strategy identifies the need for “ice-capable platforms,” yet the administration has proposed reduced funding for an essential new ice-breaker.

The report also calls for strengthening international cooperation in the Arctic, yet so far the administration has resisted Begich’s proposal to appoint a U.S. Arctic ambassador. Most other Arctic nations are represented at international meetings on the Arctic by a specially named ambassador.

Begich urged Sutley to review his legislation proposing increased science on changes in the Arctic, which is necessary to understand the implications of Arctic development, such as shipping and oil and gas exploration.

Begich also urged Sutley to continue the administration’s support for oil and gas development in Alaska’s Arctic and to pursue Senate ratification of the Law of the Sea treaty.

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