US Arctic Research Commission
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January 5, 2011

Today's Eventstodaysevents

 

The 112th Congress begins today.  New members will be sworn in today.

Media Reviewtodaysevents

 

Day One: Let the Battles Begin. John Boehner is about to face the reality of the power he now holds. The Ohio Republican, who will be elevated from Minority Leader to Speaker today, is up against an enormous challenge: He must appease a flock of conservative and ambitious GOP freshmen while putting in place a strategy for his party to expand its Congressional majority and win the White House in 2012. Roll Call 

 

A Play-by-Play of the 112th's First Day. The selection of a new Speaker and the swearing-in of freshman lawmakers are two of the most time-honored ceremonies on Capitol Hill, drawing scores of friends and family members to Washington to watch history unfold.  By Wednesday's end there will be 110 new members of Congress, the House will have a Republican Speaker and a new set of rules and the 112th Congress will be under way. Events will begin with outgoing House Clerk Lorraine Miller calling the chamber to order, followed by an opening prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. Miller will then deliver a quorum count followed by a manual roll call for members' nominations for Speaker. Having received his party's overwhelming support, Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) is expected to become the 53rd Speaker of the House. Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), the chamber's longest-serving member (a distinction known as "the Dean of the House"), will administer the oath of office to Boehner.  The Hill 

  

House Rules Package Finalized Over Democrats' Protests. House Democrats continued their assault on a GOP package of rules changes Tuesday in what has become the first major floor fight of the 112th Congress. Incoming Budget Committee ranking member Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) circulated a memo to colleagues Tuesday night that said the Republicans' package "takes a dramatic and fiscally irresponsible approach to implementing their priorities." Roll Call

 

Oil Group Predicts Increased Pressure for Offshore Drilling. Less than a year after the biggest oil spill in U.S. history, the head of the oil and gas industry's main trade group predicted Tuesday that rising gasoline prices in the year ahead could ratchet up pressure on Congress to enact legislation opening more coastal waters to drilling. Despite last summer's media blitz focused on the oil spill's environmental impacts, American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard said most consumers "think it was an isolated incident." Congressional Quarterly 

 

Panel Deals Shell Setback in the Arctic. Royal Dutch Shell was dealt a new setback in its plans to drill offshore in the arctic, after environmentalists successfully challenged a decision to grant the company air-quality permits. Shell has invested $3.5 billion in an exploration program in Alaska's Beaufort and Chukchi seas, but has yet to drill. The company's plans have been dogged by legal challenges and regulatory obstacles. Shell had finally overcome all hurdles last spring, until BP PLC's Gulf of Mexico oil well exploded, triggering the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. The Obama administration responded by suspending most new offshore drilling, including in the arctic, throwing Shell's exploration program into disarray. The Wall Street Journal 

 

Arctic Treaty Will Push Canada to Upgrade Rescue Capabilities, Experts Say. The federal government is poised to sign an international treaty that will make Canada legally responsible for search and rescue in its part of the Arctic. Northern experts say the deal, expected to be signed in May, could pressure Canada into upgrading its capabilities in the region. And, they add, it shows new resolve by the eight nations in the Arctic Council to show the rest of the world that they intend to set the rules for the uppermost reaches of the planet. "By ratcheting up the capabilities of the Arctic Council, countries like the United States, Russia and Canada are essentially saying, 'No, we have matters under control. We are making laws for this area. You can relax,' " said Michael Byers, an international law professor at the University of British Columbia who has written extensively on the Arctic. Toronto Star

 

Cairn Rents Rigs for Arctic Oil Search. Cairn Energy's highly prospective Arctic exploration program remains on track after the FTSE 100 oil and gas independent said it had rented two drilling rigs for this year and secured a $900m (578m) credit line. Cairn said that it had contracted two rigs to operate in this summer's drilling season in the Baffin Bay Basin off the west coast of Greenland, about 400km north of the Arctic Circle. The company, which has about $200m of cash on its balance sheet, has also entered into a standby secured revolving debt facility of $900m to allow it to agree the contracts and to provide additional headroom for general corporate purposes. Financial Times

 

Final Report Available- Bering Strait Environmental Observation Workshop. An effort to design appropriate environmental observation networks in the Bering Strait region is underway with support from the National Science Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the Alaska Ocean Observing System. Two workshops were held, one in Eatonville, Washington, USA in May 2009, and a second in Nome Alaska in January 2010 to gather input and suggestions from an international suite of physical, chemical and biological observation experts with interests in the Bering Strait region, as well as representatives of several local, subsistence-based communities, specifically Shishmaref, Brevig Mission, Gambell, Savoonga, Diomede and Wales. A report is available here: University of Maryland: Center for Environmental Science 

 

Hastings Announces Natural Resources Subcommittee Chairs, Establishes new Indian and Alaska Native Affairs Subcommittee. House Natural Resources Committee Chairman-elect Doc Hastings (WA-04) today named subcommittee chairmen for the 112th Congress. He also announced the establishment a new Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs. Article I, Section 8, Clause 3 of the Constitution delegates to Congress the power to regulate trade with Indian tribes, and in the House of Representatives the Natural Resources Committee is assigned jurisdiction over this power. Oversight and legislative responsibilities for Indian and Alaska Native matters were previously handled by the Full Committee. "These Members bring a tremendous amount of experience and knowledge to their subcommittees," said Hastings. "Each subcommittee chairman will play a crucial role in conducting thoughtful oversight of the Administration's decisions and promoting sensible natural resources policies that will create jobs, strengthen our economy, reduce spending and protect our environment. "The creation of a subcommittee specifically dedicated to tribal matters will promote increased consultation on legislation concerning Indians and Alaska Natives. The subcommittee will focus on developing tribal economies and reducing federal obstacles that block tribal job creation and the production of new wealth and investments on Indian lands." Subcommittee on Indian and Alaska Native Affairs:Chairman: Don Young (AK-at large) House Resources Committee 

Legislative Actionfutureevents
 

No formal legislative action was taken yesterday.

Future Eventsfutureevents

  
Alaska Marine Science Symposium, January 17-21. Within each theme (Bering AMSS 2011 promoSea, Arctic Ocean, and Gulf of Alaska), presenters will discuss climate, oceanography, lower trophic levels, the benthos, fish and invertebrates, seabirds, marine mammals, local and traditional knowledge, and socioeconomic research.
 
National Conference on Science, Policy and the Environment, January 19-21. One of the conference themes is "White Arctic/ Blue Arctic." This theme will address ice changes in the Arctic to consider several questions: What does science tell us about the future of the Arctic? How would issues about the future - white or blue - be resolved? What models and monitoring data will be required to support an emerging management regime that would allow for sustainable use of the Arctic? How can use of the Arctic and its resources be managed in the face of these possibilities?


95th meeting of the USARC, Jan. 21, Anchorage. The USARC will meet in the usarc logo smallQuadrant room of the Captain Cook Hotel, starting at 8:30 am. A detailed agenda will be available at www.arctic.gov by January 7.
 

Public Forum on Natural Gas Markets, January 22. The federal coordinator's office for the Alaska natural gas pipeline will sponsor a public forum on gas markets Jan. 22 to help Alaskans better understand the supply-and-demand fundamentals affecting the proposed pipeline project. The Office of the Federal Coordinator for Alaska Natural Gas Transportation Projects will bring to Alaska several national experts on Lower 48 supply and demand issues including shale gas, the effect of federal clean air regulations on natural gas demand, and foreign markets for liquefied natural gas. Panelists

  

Arctic Tipping Points, January 23-29, 2011. Arctic Frontiers will host a conferenceseesaw considering the following topics: Ice-ocean-atmosphere interactions in the Arctic;  Marine ecosystems and fisheries; Socioeconomic and institutional perspectives; and People of the North.
 
President's Budget, February 7. By statute, the president is required to submit his annual budget proposal to Congress by the first Monday in February.
 
Arctic Technology Conference, February 7-9, 2011. The Arctic is one of the few places on the globe which still holds enormous new petroleum reserve potential. A recently completed USGS survey estimated that 20% of the world's remaining reserves were trapped beneath the Arctic Circle. OTC's inaugural Arctic Technology Conference (ATC), 7-9 February 2011 in Houston, Texas, will be a truly global event focused on the cutting-edge technologies and innovative practices needed for exploration and production in the Arctic.


International Conference on Arctic Marine Science, International Law and Climate Protection, March 17-18. The German Federal Foreign Office is hosting an event that will take place on the Berlin premises of the Federal Office. The event is co-hosted by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, with additional support from prominent research institutes. The Conference will discuss the legal framework for marine scientific research in the Arctic Ocean at present and in the future. Scholars, scientists and diplomats with an interest in the Arctic Ocean are invited to attend. For more information, please contact 504-s@diplo.de.

 
Arctic Science Summit Week, Seoul, March 28-April 1, 2011. The purpose of Korean Flagthe Arctic Science Summit Week is to provide opportunities for international coordination, collaboration, and cooperation in all fields of Arctic science. The Arctic Science Week 2011 is supported by the Korean government, the Korean Research Council of Fundamental Science & Technology, and the Seoul Tourism Organization, among other groups.

 

The Arctic as a Messenger for Global Processes- Climate Change and Pollution, May 4-6, 2011. The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP), the University of Copenhagen, and Aarhus University. The conference will include talks by invited keynote speakers, oral presentations selected on the basis of submitted abstracts, poster presentations, and short oral presentations of selected posters. A panel discussion will develop messages to be communicated to the Arctic Council Ministerial meeting that will take place in Greenland one week after the conference. 

  
Sixth International Conference on Arctic Margins, May 31-June 2, 2011 at the University of Alaska - Fairbanks.  The International Conference on Arctic Margins (ICAM) will examine current geological and geophysical research on the Arctic. Topics include: hydrocarbon potential and gas hydrates; science issues relating to UNCLOS Article 76; geodynamic significance of Arctic magmatism; vertical motions in the Arctic, tectonic, and glacial; geology and palaeogeography of the Arctic continental margins; evolution of the Arctic Ocean basins, including plate reconstructions, magmatism, and sedimentology; modern Arctic environments, including geological, climatic, and oceanographic processes; recent advances in Arctic research technology. More information email.
 
7th Congress of the International Arctic Social Sciences, June 22-26, 2011The 7th Congress, "Circumpolar Perspectives in Global Dialogue: Social Sciences Beyond the IPY," will be held in Akureyri, Iceland. The International Congress of the Arctic Social Sciences is held every three years. 
 
Holocene Glacier Variability from the Tropics to the Poles, July 20-27, 2011. Glaciers respond sensitively to climate change. Recent (Holocene) glacier fluctuations are a valuable proxy for terrestrial interglacial paleoclimate conditions. A main challenge for interpreting paleoclimate from past mountain glacier extents is distinguishing local and regional patterns from global signals. Reconstructing Holocene glacier extents involves many disciplines including terrestrial and marine geology, geochronology and glaciology. Organizers hope to facilitate an inter-hemispheric comparison of glacier records including locations in the Tropics, European Alps, American Cordillera, Southern Alps of New Zealand, Himalaya and Polar Regions and to identify future research questions and directions. For additional information contact: Meredith Kelly.
 
13th Arctic Ungulates Conference (AUC), August 22-26, 2011. The theme of the conference will be "Challenges of Managing Northern Ungulates." The theme addresses the difficulties of managing ungulate populations that are faced with the unpredictable effects of climate change and an ever-increasing human presence on the land. The conference will also focus on the challenges associated with developing recovery actions for declining caribou and reindeer populations that are an integral part of Aboriginal cultures and ways of life. 
 
9th International Symposium on Permafrost Engineering, September 3-7, 2011. The Melnikov Permafrost Institute (Yakutsk, Russia), the Institute of Northern Mining (Yakutsk, Russia), the Cold and Arid Regions Engineering and Environmental Research Institute (Lanzhou, China), and the Heilongjiang Institute of Cold Region permafrostEngineering (Harbin, China) will host the Ninth International Symposium on  Permafrost Engineering to be held in Mirny, Yakutia. The aim of the Symposium i s to provide a forum for discussion of permafrost engineering issues, as well as for exchange of practical experience in construction and maintenance of engineering structures on frozen ground. For additional information, please contact Lilia Prokopieva.
 
Lowell Wakefield International Fisheries Symposium, September 14-17, 2011. The 27th Lowell Wakefield International Fisheries Symposium, entitled "Fishing People of the North: Cultures, Economies, and Management Responding to Change," will be held in Anchorage, Alaska. This international symposium will provide a forum for scholars, fishery managers, fishing families, and others to explore the human dimensions of fishery systems and growing need to include social science research in policy processes. The conference is part of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Sea Grant program.

 

The Tenth International Conference on Permafrost, June 2012. The conference will be held in Tyumen, Russia, and is organized and hosted by Russia. The last conference was held in Fairbanks, Alaska, in 2008.  More details to follow.

 

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