Arctic Daily Update: May 13, 2013
The Senate will consider legislation to reauthorize Army Corps of Engineers water project. The House will hold a pro forma session.
White House Outlines New Policy for Protecting, Drilling in Arctic. The Obama administration on Friday released a national strategy for the Arctic in advance of Secretary of State John Kerry's trip next week to Sweden to attend a conference of eight polar nations. In the policy, the White House outlines its approach to some key Arctic issues, even as it acknowledges that there are conflicting - and even contradictory - goals and challenges as rapidly melting sea ice makes the region more accessible. The Arctic is warming twice as fast as other regions of the Earth. Anchorage Daily News
US Unveils Arctic Strategy, But Is It Keeping Pace with Other Countries? The priorities in the 13-page document include beefing up defense and other national security activities in the region, as well as the infrastructure to support them; working to safeguard the region's environment; and working with other Arctic nations one-on-one and through multi-country organizations, such as the Arctic Council, to manage activities in the region in ways that reduce the potential for conflict. In addition, the strategy calls for a push for ratification of the UN's Law of the Sea Treaty, which failed to clear the Senate last year. The Christian Science Monitor
Congressional Working Group to Examine Endangered Species Act. The US House Committee on Natural Resources has formed a working group to examine the Endangered Species Act. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., and chair of the committee, and Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., co-chair of the Western Caucus, will lead the working group, according to a press release from the working group. The group will sponsor forums and hearings in the coming year, seeking input on ways the law can be updated and ways it is working well. The act was last reauthorized in 1988. Capitol Press
Arctic Strategy: White House Looks Toward Last Frontier But Will Investment Follow? Hours after the White House announced it had signed the National Strategy for the Arctic Region, Alaskans began to put into perspective what the high-level event really means for the Last Frontier. Many of Alaska's stakeholders were briefed early in the day during a phone call with the White House. The strategy is the U.S. version of similar commitments made by Canada, Norway, Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Russia, and Sweden. Alaska Dispatch
Aglukkaq Promises 'Different Perspective' As Chair of Northern Body. The huge, white polar bear - the Arctic's undisputed top predator - doesn't seem at all out of place in Leona Aglukkaq's spacious ministerial office high above the river in Ottawa's gothic-revival Confederation Building. Ms. Aglukkaq, an Inuk, is very proud of it - and prouder still of her nephew, who shot the big bear when he was only 11. It was the boy's first polar bear kill and he gave the hide, its noble head still attached, to his aunt, whose heart is still in Gjoa Haven and who represents the vast, Arctic constituency of Nunavut. The Globe and Mail
Aglukkaq of the Arctic: Can Federal Minister Set a Vision for International Council? With a huge polar bear skin proudly displayed on one wall of her Parliament Hill office and the baton-sized penis bone of a walrus set on a nearby shelf, federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq's central point in a recent interview - that the Arctic "is not just a giant park" - is amply punctuated. It's a place, she insists, where wildlife should be protected but also sustainably exploited by the mainly Inuit residents of Canada's North. And that principle, she argues, should also guide the management of all other natural resources - oil, gas, diamonds, gold - at a time when melting sea ice and a robust global demand for such commodities are creating the perfect conditions for a northern economic boom. The Montreal Gazette
Business to Have Role in Arctic Debates, Say Aglukkaq. Creating a bigger presence for industry at the world's premiere international forum on northern issues won't distract from its work on environmental problems, says the Conservative cabinet minister about to lead the group. "Absolutely not," said Leona Aglukkaq, who will assume the chairmanship of the group of the eight nations that ring the North Pole starting on Wednesday. "That research, the work of interest to all the Arctic regions, that will continue during our chairmanship." CTV News
Proposal For Border Fees Between US, Canada Shot Down in Congress. The U.S. won't introduce border-crossing fees at land ports of entry after all. The Department of Homeland Security had wanted the U.S. Congress to authorize the study of a fee that could be collected from everyone entering the U.S. at land crossings bordering Canada and Mexico. There are five land ports of entry between Alaska and Canada - at Poker Creek on the Top of the World Highway, on the Alcan Highway near Tok, at Dalton Cache on the Haines Highway, at Skagway on the Klondike Highway and in Hyder. Alaska Dispatch
As Arctic Thaws, Competition Heats Up. The icy Arctic is emerging as a global economic hot spot -- and one that is becoming a security concern for the U.S. as world powers jockey to tap its vast energy resources and stake out unclaimed territories. Diplomats from eight Arctic nations, including Secretary of State John Kerry, will meet next week over how to protect the thawing region as its waterways increasingly open to commercial shipping traffic. Press Herald
Warming to the Idea of Arctic Exploration. The Arctic is no virgin. As early as 1920, the first onshore oil wells were dug in Canada's Mackenzie River valley. Since then more than 400 oil and gas fields have been discovered in the Arctic region. However, thanks to the harsh environment and high operational costs, progress for both oil and gas and shipping industries there has been slow. A warmer Arctic, where melting sea ice clears sea routes allowing more traffic and construction for better infrastructure, is certainly more inviting. And this is exactly what is happening. Since 1951 the Arctic has warmed twice as fast as the rest of the world. During this period, the temperature in Greenland rose by 1.5 C, compared with a global average of 0.7 C, research data shows. Evidence also demonstrates that the discrepancy is likely to continue. China DailyNovel 'Oblique Icebreaker' Will Clear Wider Path for Arctic Industry. Even as the White House took a step forward on Arctic policy by signing its National Strategy for the Arctic Region on Friday, the U.S. lags behind other Arctic nations in taking advantage of its northernmost borders. Icebreaking capability is one area where the U.S. is lacking, and a new icebreaker commissioned by the Russian government and expected for delivery early next year may put America even further behind the curve. If it works as expected, the "oblique icebreaker" being developed by the Russian Ministry of Transport and Finnish engineering firm Aker Arctic could be a game changer as commercial ship traffic and resource development ramps up in an increasingly ice-free polar region. In addition to moving ahead and astern, the new vessel will also be able to turn itself sideways -- obliquely -- allowing its much-longer broadside to clear a wider path for following vessels or spill cleanup efforts in certain types of ice. Alaska Dispatch
No formal legislative action was taken on Arctic legislation yesterday.
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.
10th International Symposium on Cold Regions Development (ISCORD 2013) (June 2-5, 2013) (Anchorage, Alaska) The International Association for Cold Regions Development Studies (IACORDS) and the Technical Council on Cold Regions Engineering of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) will host a conference on "Planning for Sustainable Cold Regions." Special Keynote Sessions each day include "Bridging the Gap Between Climate Change Science and Engineering Practice"; "The Challenges of the Debris from the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake in Japan"; and "Energy in Alaska - Current and Future Projects."
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 (see 6/25 forum titled "US Government Investment in Arctic Change Research"). 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.
7th International Workshop on Ice Drilling Technology (September 9-13, 2013) (Madison, WI). The event is sponsored by the Ice Drilling Program Office- Ice Drilling Design and Operations (IDPO--IDDO), International Partnerships in Ice Core Sciences (IPICS), International Glaciological Society (IGS). Following in the footsteps of the sixprevious ice drilling technology workshops held between 1974 and 2006, the Seventh International Workship on Ice Drilling Technology will take a comprehensive look a the latest innovations in ice drilling technology, including ice coring, borehole logging, subglacial sampling, core logging and handling, and field logistics.
The 2013 Arctic Energy Summit, October 8-10, (Akureyri, Iceland). The 2013 Arctic Energy Summit is a multidisciplinary event expected to draw together several hundred industry officials, scientists, academics, policymakers, energy professionals and community leaders to collaborate and share leading approaches on Arctic energy issues. Building on the work done at the highly successful 2007 Arctic Energy Summit and Technology Conference, the 2013 Summit will address energy extraction, production and transmission in the Arctic as it relates to three thematic areas: richness, resilience and responsibility. The 2013 Summit will be hosted by the Institute of the North in cooperation with local host Arctic Portal.
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.
Community Oil Spill Response in Bering and Anadyr Straights, (November 7-8, 2013) (Anchorage, Alaska). This workshop will bring together a diversity of stakeholders to advance a collective dialog to learn more about and respond to community desires to be part of oil spill first-response efforts that help protect food security and other local resources; come to agreement on the multiple roles local community members can play in responding to oil spills; and create an action plan for moving forward on this topic. The workshop is sponsored by the Wildlife Conservation Society.
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.