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November 4, 2011

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The House will consider legislation to reauthorize the Coast Guard. The House may consider several amendments to the bill, including an amendment to give states more input in regulating ballast water as well as an amendment to remove language from the bill proposing to decommission a heavy-duty polar icebreaker.   The Senate is not in session.


The House will not be in session next week.  The Senate will be in session to consider several legislative provisions.

Media Reviewtodaysevents  


UAF Moves Ahead With Veterinary Program. The University of Alaska Fairbanks will enter a partnership to provide a veterinary degree program for Alaska students. The program, which could begin as early as fall 2013, is envisioned as a way to ease a shortage of veterinarians in the state. It would allow students to take two years of graduate-level study in Fairbanks before spending their final two years of veterinary training at Colorado State University. The University of Alaska Board of Regents included funding for the new program Wednesday in next year's operating budget. The $400,000 appropriation will be enough to teach as many as 20 veterinary students at the UAF campus before they finish their training in Colorado, said UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers. Fairbanks Daily News-Miner


Harold RogersConferees on 'Minibus' Trying to Finish Bill Before House Returns November 14. Appropriators are still struggling to get the first of the fiscal 2012 spending bills across the finish line as the expiration of the current stopgap spending measure approaches and hopes dim for quick completion of a three-bill "minibus." House and Senate conferees on that package (HR 2112) held what may be their only formal meeting on Thursday and now have little more than a week to negotiate a compromise on the Agriculture, Commerce-Justice-Science and Transportation-HUD spending measures. House Appropriations Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., said a Conference Report needs to be ready by Nov. 14, when the House returns from next week's recess, so the House can comply with its rule generally requiring that action on legislation occur no sooner than three days after a measure has been made public. Congressional Quarterly


Healy, Coast GuardLanguage to Decommission Polar Icebreaker Draws Administration's Ire. The Obama administration said Thursday that it strongly opposes the passage of a House Coast Guard's authorization bill because the measure would decommission the service's only heavy-duty polar icebreaker that has a chance of operating anytime soon. A statement of administration policy, released the day before the bill (HR 2838) was set for Floor consideration, stopped short of a veto threat. But the statement said the White House wants to work with Congress to alter the measure. It noted that lawmakers have already approved funding for refits of the Polar Star; that process is under way in Seattle. "The administration has requested, and Congress has appropriated, funds to reactivate the . . . Polar Star by December 2012 and extend that vessel's service life for seven to 10 years," the policy statement said. "This effort will stabilize the United States' existing polar fleet until long-term icebreaking capability requirements are finalized." Congressional Quarterly


Democrats Want Water Discharge Language in Bill. An otherwise routine Coast Guard authorization bill that the House is scheduled to take up Friday could draw Democratic opposition unless language is added to give states more input into the regulation of water discharged from ships. Lawmakers and House aides confirmed this week that some Democrats are discussing casting unified votes against passage of the authorization bill (HR 2838) if provisions are not added to let states propose areas where it would be illegal to unload water used on ships for such purposes as running toilets, cleaning and maintaining stability. Congressional Quarterly


Who Should Pay for Safety at Sea in the Arctic? "Individually, the Nordic countries are small, while the Arctic waters cover a vast area, so the Nordic Region countries will have to work together to improve safety at sea in the far north. And why not ask shipping companies to help foot the bill?" the Nordic Council asked at its annual Session in Copenhagen, 1-3 November. In May, the Arctic Council adopted a 'Search and Rescue' agreement, but more needs to be done, especially about prevention of accidents, according to the Nordic Council Environment Committee. The Council is calling on the Nordic governments to launch a series of tangible initiatves that will enhance safety in the Arctic and benefit both the environment and the people who live there. Fish Update


UFA Supports Reestablishment of AK Coastal Management Program. The United Fishermen of Alaska has joined a growing number of coastal communities in adopting a resolution supporting reestablishment of an Alaska Coastal Management Program at its full board meeting in Homer last week. The resolution makes no reference to the initiative, or controversial points that led to a legislative deadlock and the cessation of the program. "UFA's focus is on the common interests of the fishing industry, and we all share the recognition of the need for the ACMP's coordination of local and borough input into federal decision making on coastal projects, and the federal funding that pays for the process," said UFA Executive Director Mark Vinsel. Alaska Business Monthly


Polar Icebreaker Dispute Ties Up Coast Guard Appropriations. With the nation's only two heavy-duty polar icebreakers broken and out of service, the Obama administration and congressional Republicans are clashing on how best to put the U.S. Coast Guard back into the ice-busting business. House Republicans, who say they want to force the administration's hand, are pushing a Coast Guard appropriations bill that would decommission the icebreaker Polar Star, which is now being repaired, in just three years, saying that keeping the 35-year-old ship afloat is "throwing good money after bad." CNN


ChinaflagNew Icebreaker to Improve China Polar Research. As China's new icebreaker readies to set sail in 2014, the country might conduct expeditions to the North Pole every year in the near future, a senior official said. The new icebreaker will improve China's capability in polar research, joining the older icebreaker, Xuelong, on China's Arctic and Antarctic research vessel, Li Yuansheng, deputy director of the Polar Research Institute of China and leader of the 28th Antarctic research expedition, told China Daily. Li and his team started China's 28th Antarctic research expedition from Tianjin on Thursday. China Daily


Arctic Sea Ice Remains Near Historic Minimum Despite Freeze-Up. Plunging temperatures and the shorter days of approaching winter transformed vast reaches of the Arctic Ocean into ice during October - a freeze-up that has been 40 percent faster than average, according to the latest sea ice analysis posted by the National Snow & Ice Data Center. It may be too little, too late. Despite the creation of 44,360 square miles of new ice each day - adding floes nearly equal to the size of Ohio every 24 hours - the polar sea north of Alaska ended the month with the second smallest extent ever observed during the age of satellites, about 87,300 square miles larger than the all-time minimum record set in October 2007. Alaska Dispatch 


Coast Guard [Canadian] to Beef Up Iqaluit Communications Center: Five jobs to move from Inuvik to Iqaluit. Within two years, the Canadian Coast Guard's Arctic communications headquarters will call Iqaluit its home. The move will see five positions move from Inuvik to Iqaluit. The Coast Guard plans to roll services under the Coast Guard's Marine Communications and Traffic Services Centre, now based in both Inuvik and Iqaluit, into a single "modernized and state-of-the-art communications centre" in Iqaluit by 2013, said Kevin Hill, a spokesperson for the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Nunatsiaq Online


The EU and Norway: Interdependence and Rivalry. A recent poll in Norway revealed that the percentage of the Norwegian population which favors EU membership is at an all-time low. At the same time, the EU's influence on Norwegian politics has never been as extensive as it is right now. This is especially true for the developments in the Norwegian Arctic, where European engagement leads to both limitations and opportunities. The EU-debate in Norway currently is, and has been during recent years, almost non-existent in media and national politics. Although almost 70 percent of all adopted Norwegian legislation comes from the EU through the EEA-agreement (European Economic Area), the debate about Norway's connection to the EU is lacking in society at large. The agreement, which was signed in 1994 when Norway rejected EU-membership by national referendum, has been named as a "political sleeping pillow" by commentators, hindering a proper debate on Norway's relationship to Europe. And as recent polls show, 72 percent of the population is currently against a Norwegian EU membership, while only 12 percent supports it. The Arctic Institute


Legislative Actionfutureevents  


H.R. 2838, Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act (LoBiondo, rule set for consideration of the bill in the House)


H.R. 2840, Commercial Vessel Discharges Reform Act (LoBiondo, placed on the Union Calendar)

Future Events                                   


Meeting of the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC), November 7, 2011. Principals (senior federal officials) will meet in the White House Conference Center to discuss a draft of the 5-year Arctic Research Program Plan (called for in the Arctic Research and Policy Act) and other federal Arctic research efforts and initiatives. Brendan Kelly, at NSF, is the Executive Director of IARPC. 


Arctic Policy Forum: The Role of Science in Responsible Development, November 15, 2011. Join the Institute of the North for this quarter's Arctic Policy Forum.  This presentation and networking event will focus on science and collaboration in the Arctic and will feature Michael Macrander, Lead Scientist for Shell and Fran Ulmer, Chair of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission. The Institute of the North's Arctic Policy Forums are a new way of engaging in Arctic issues. These quarterly networking events  serve to underline and elevate Alaska's role in the Arctic.  Informal policy presentations followed by networking events invite policy makers and administrators, researchers, community leaders and interested citizens together for an informal sharing opportunity. Participants will hear expert presentations on key policy findings and positions; emerging Arctic technologies; and challenges facing infrastructure development in the Arctic. Participants will also have the opportunity to spend time getting to know key stakeholders in Alaska's Arctic.

White House Tribal Nations Conference, December 2, 2011. President Obama will host the White House Tribal Nations Conference at the Department of the Interior. As part of President Obama's ongoing outreach to the American people, this conference will provide leaders from the 565 federally recognized tribes the opportunity to interact directly with the President and representatives from the highest levels of his Administration. Each federally recognized tribe will be invited to send one representative to the conference. This will be the third White House Tribal Nations Conference for the Obama Administration, and continues to build upon the President's commitment to strengthen the nation-to-nation relationship with Indian Country.  


AGU Fall Meeting, December 5-9, 2011. The American Geophysical Union's ("AGU") Fall Meeting to connect with colleagues, broaden their knowledge base, and embrace the joy of science.  The groundbreaking research presented at this world-renowned event is critical to advancing our understanding of the natural world and to addressing the challenges society faces as they relate to our science. As an organization, AGU works to unite Earth and space scientists who are dedicated to the common goal: scientific discovery for the benefit of humanity.  One of the most important ways we do this is through the Fall Meeting - an event that embodies who we are as a scientific organization and that is key to helping us achieve our organizational mission, vision and goals. 

Alaska Marine Science Symposium, January 16-20, 2012. The symposium was first held in 2002 to connect scientists in Alaska, the Pacific Northwest and beyond in an effort to collaborate and communicate on research


 activities in the marine regions off Alaska. There will be plenary and poster sessions featuring a broad spectrum of ocean science on issues of climate, oceanography, lower trophic levels, the benthos, fish and invertebrates, seabirds, marine mammals, local and traditional knowledge, and socioeconomic research. There will also be speakers, workshops and special sessions.


US Arctic Research Commission meeting in Washington, DC, January 25-27, 2012. The Commission will meet jointly with the Canadian Polar Commission on the 25th, and then with representatives from the federal government and other entities to discuss Arctic research issues. An agenda will be provided in early January here


Arctic Science Summit Week 2012 , April 20-22, 2012. The summit will provide opportunities for international coordination, collaboration and cooperation in all areas of Arctic science. Side meetings organized by stakeholders in Arctic science and policy are also expected. More information to follow. 


From Knowledge to Action, April 22-27, 2012. The conference will bring together over 2,000 Arctic and Antarctic researchers, policy and decision-makers, and a broad range of interested parties from academia, industry, non-government, education and circumpolar communities including indigenous peoples. The conference is hosted by the Canadian IPY Program Office in partnership with the National Research Council of Canada, among other groups. Each day of the conference will feature a program of keynote speakers, plenary panel discussions, parallel science sessions, as well as dedicated poster sessions. The conference-wide plenaries will explore themes related to topics of polar change, global linkages, communities and health, ecosystem services, infrastructure, resources and security. Other sessions will provide the opportunity to present and discuss the application of research findings, policy implications and how to take polar knowledge to action. 


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. Details to follow.  


The Arctic Imperative Summit, July 29-August 1, 2012. The summit will be hosted by Alaska Dispatch and will bring together leading voices in this conversation, including residents from the small villages that comprise Alaska's coastal communities; state, national and international leaders; the heads of shipping and industry; as well as international policymakers and the news media. The goal of the summit is to sharpen the focus on the policy and investment needs of Alaska's Arctic through a series of high level meetings, presentations, investor roundtables and original research.


15th International Congress on Circumpolar Heath, August 5-10, 2012. This kivalina girlevent is sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Society for Circumpolar Health, and the International Union for Circumpolar Health.  The forum will consider community participatory research and indigenous research; women's health, family health, and well-being; food security and nutrition; social determinants of health; environmental and occupational health; infectious and chronic diseases; climate change health impacts; health service delivery and infrastructure; and behavioral health.


Arctic/Inuit/Connections: Learning from the Top of the World , October 24-28, 2012.  The 18th Inuit Studies Conference, hosted by the Smithsonian Institution, will be held in Washington, DC. The conference will consider heritage museums and the North; globalization: an Arctic story; power, governance and politics in the North; the '"new" Arctic: social, cultural and climate change; and Inuit education, health, language, and literature. For more information, please email Lauren Marr.


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