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Alaska Arctic Policy Commission Co-Chairs Meet with High Level Officials in Washington, DC

WASHINGTON, DC-This week, the Co-Chairs of the Alaska Arctic Policy Commission (AAPC), Senator Lesil McGuire and Representative Bob Herron, met with several high-level federal officials, including Alaska’s Congressional Delegation, in Washington, DC to promote Alaska’s vision of the Arctic.  One of the main goals for the trip was to weigh in on critical pending federal appointments including the Arctic Council Chair, Special Representative to the Arctic, and the Arctic Ambassador. 

“Since Alaska is what makes the U.S. an Arctic nation, it is vital we have a great deal of input into who will represent our great nation as we create Arctic policy. We are in our nation’s capital at the perfect time to join our delegation and the Governor's office in making certain Alaska has a voice in that critical process,” said Senator McGuire. 

Many of the meetings focused on improving, elevating and institutionalizing the consultation and dialog between Alaska and the Federal Government.   In order to pursue this mission, Senator McGuire and Representative Herron met with several key federal officials including Ali Zaidi, who is the liaison across agencies for the White House Domestic Policy Council.  Zaidi, who has a background in energy, holds the second highest position on the council and handles the nation’s Arctic portfolio.

The pair also met with Tommy Beaudreau, who is the director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management within the Department of Interior, Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Kerri-Ann Jones, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oceans and Fisheries in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs Ambassador David Balton, Principle Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Paul Jones, and United States Coast Guard Commander and National Security Staff for the White House Eric Cooper.

“These meetings are critical to not only ensure Alaska’s voice is heard as the United States crafts its Arctic Policy, but that our great state leads the nation in forming a strategy which will benefit Alaskans and Americans as opportunities in the Arctic present themselves,” said Representative Herron.  “I want to thank the White House staff and senior federal agency participants who engaged in these conversations.  I look forward to continued collaboration as the United States prepares for its role as Chair of the Arctic Council in 2015.”

Senator McGuire and Representative Herron also attended a U.S.-Canada Arctic Roundtable hosted by the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region (PNWER) while in Washington, DC this week.  PNWER is a statutory public/private non-profit created in 1991 by the states of Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Montana and Washington and the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and the Yukon and Northwest Territories.  This week’s roundtable discussion highlighted collaborative Arctic efforts underway between Alaska and the Yukon and Northwest Territories as well as the PNWER Arctic Caucus action plan.  Senator McGuire and Representative Herron currently co-chair the PNWER Arctic Caucus.  

“It is imperative for us as Alaskans to speak with a common voice as the push to develop and open up the Arctic speeds up,” said Senator McGuire.   “Other nations are already far ahead of the United States in recognizing the great value and challenges we face in the North.  I believe through the AAPC and PNWER’s work and meetings like these, we are establishing Alaska as the expert on Arctic issues and the ones who can once again put the United States at the front of the race.”

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