Arctic Update Header
February 17, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The Senate will consider legislation to extend payroll tax cuts. The Senate is expected to hold a test vote on the Surface Transportation bill. The House is expected to consider the payroll tax cut conference report.



North Slope Well Blowout Remains Out of Control: REPSOL: Emergency crew arrives on site and hopes to have the well killed today. The Repsol exploration well that blew out Wednesday from pressure from a shallow gas pocket remained out of control Thursday, but was leaking only small amounts of gas and water, state and company officials said. An emergency crew from Wild Well Control Inc., based in Houston, arrived about 5 a.m. Thursday at the Qugruk No. 2 wellsite on the Colville River delta, about 18 miles from the village of Nuiqsut. Repsol-North America spokeswoman Jan Sieving said the Wild Well team believed it could kill the well Thursday evening or today, rendering it safe. Ty Keltner, spokesman for Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, said cleanup crews were standing by, awaiting an all-clear sign from Wild Well. Anchorage Daily News


Obama Administration Announces Major Steps Toward Science-Based Arctic Energy Exploration. Building on the Obama Administration's record of taking steps to expand safe and responsible development of our nation's oil and gas resources, Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar announced the next steps toward energy exploration activities in shallow waters in the Arctic during a limited period this summer. Today's announcement is informed by the latest science, and continues to be guided by important new safety standards as well as lessons learned from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Those steps include: today's approval by DOI's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) of Shell Gulf of Mexico, Inc.'s (Shell) Oil Spill Response Plan (OSRP) for the Chukchi Sea; coordinated exercises and emergency response planning by U.S. agencies in the Arctic; expanded scientific work, information collection and data sharing among agencies, industry, and research institutions to inform Arctic planning; and undertaking long-term, landscape-scale planning for the Arctic. PennEnergy 


canadian flagInuit in Canada's Arctic Seek Decision on Part of Land-Claim Lawsuit. A judge in Iqaluit is deciding whether part of a case between Nunavut Tunngavik, the Inuit land-claim organization in Canada's eastern Arctic, and the federal government needs to go to a full trial. NTI is accusing Ottawa of failing to live up to its obligations under the Nunavut Land Claim Agreement. Part of that deal required the federal government to create a single agency to track environmental, social and economic changes in Nunavut. Alaska Dispatch 


Increased Bacterial Loads in Potable Water Could Have Significant Health Effects on Indigenous People From the Arctic to Uganda, Says Vanier Scholar. Indigenous people around the world are among the most vulnerable to climate change and are increasingly susceptible to the pathogen loads found in potable water after heavy rainfall or rapid snow melt. These are the preliminary findings of Sherilee Harper, a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholar in Aboriginal People's Health at the University of Guelph, who says that there has been a significant increase in the incidence of diarrhea and vomiting following these weather events. Harper is undertaking a comparative study of how extreme weather events affect waterborne diseases in the Arctic and in southwestern Uganda-and is finding plenty of similarities between health issues faced by indigenous groups in Uganda and those in Inuit Nunangat. "There are a lot of similarities," she says. "One of the most significant is caused by changes to the climate; in both places, increased temperatures and rainfall are leading to increased bacterial loads in water. This can be because of heavy rainfall or rapid snowmelt, but, in each case, it leads to an increased risk of exposure to waterborne disease from both tap water and brook water." Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada 


YoungHouse OKs Bill Opening ANWR to Oil Drill: UPHILL BATTLE: Bill likely to die in the Senate, backers say. The U.S. House once again passed a bill to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, voting 237-187 Thursday on a measure expected to die in the Senate. "This is my 12th time passing ANWR out of the House and although this is a momentous day, there is still work to be done," said U.S. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska. He said the Senate should get moving. The legislation, which contains other controversial drilling and pipeline provisions, faces much bigger obstacles in the Senate and with President Obama, said Alaska's senators, Republican Lisa Murkowski and Democrat Mark Begich. Anchorage Daily News 


[Canada] Navy Boss Wants More Cash to Boost Ranks. Canada will need to grow its naval ranks and increase spending to keep an eye on the expected human activity boom to come when ice recedes, Canada's highest-raking Navy boss said Thursday. Vice-Admiral Paul Maddison, Commander for the Royal Canadian Navy, said Canada is entering into a "maritime century," one that requires a Navy capable of influencing events in open waters and abroad to protect national interests. Among those interests is the growing economic opportunity opening up in the Arctic, such as hidden riches of oil, gas and minerals and foreign shipping. For the Navy to continue its key role in the Arctic, more money will have to be spent, not only on sailors, but also to expand surveillance in order to keep a close eye on activity in one of the world's most remote regions. "I definitely see room for more investment in surveillance capacity, persistent surveillance capacity in the Arctic, infusing surveillance systems to provide a more real-time operating picture of what's going on," Maddison told reporters in Calgary. Calgary Sun 


Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No Arctic legislation was considered yesterday.

Future Events                                   


Pew: Arctic Ocean Energy Development, February 24, 2012. (** New space and additional RSVPs will be accepted**)The Pew Environment Group will host a panel discussion on Arctic Ocean energy development. Panelist will be Fran Ulmer, member of the BP Deepwater Horizon Spill and Offshore Drilling Commission, and now Chair of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission, Michael R. Bromwich, former director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement; Edward Itta, former mayor of North Slope Borough, Alaska; and Vice Adm. Roger T. Rufe, U.S. Coast Guard (retired). Marilyn Heiman, director of Pew's U.S. Arctic Program, will moderate. The speakers will address the challenges facing energy exploration in the U.S. Arctic Ocean, such as oil spill response, Coast Guard readiness, infrastructure needs, and how to best protect wildlife habitat and subsistence areas. 


Arctic Workshop, March 7-9, 2012. The Workshop is hosted by the Institute of Arctic and Alpine Research. The meeting is open to all interested in the Arctic, and will consist of a series of talks and poster sessions covering all aspects of INSTAARhigh-latitude environments. Previous Arctic Workshops have included presentations on arctic and antarctic climate, archeology, environmental geochemistry, geomorphology, hydrology, glaciology, soils, ecology, oceanography, Quaternary history, and more. A traditional strength of the Workshop has been Arctic paleoenvironments. Click 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 here


From Knowledge to Action, April 22-27, 2012. The conference will bring IPYmeetinglogotogether 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. Click here


USARC Commission Meeting, April 27-28, 2012. The 97th meeting of the CPClogoUSARC will be held in Montreal, Canada, in conjunction with the "From Knowledge to  


usarc logo large

Action" IPY meeting referred to above. The Commission will meet on April 27-28, and will meet jointly with the Canadian Polar Commission on the afternoon of the 27th, to discuss common interests in Arctic Research. Details to follow. 


Arctic Forum 2012, April 30-May 1, 2012. The Arctic Research Consortium of the U.S. will host the forum in conjunction with their 24th annual meeting. Both events will be in Washington, D.C. The Arctic Forum is part of the American Geophysical Union's Science Policy Conference, which will be held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. The Conference will focus on the science that helps inform policymakers' decisions. Within the Science Policy Conference, the Arctic Forum will assess gaps and priority needs for arctic scientific information to inform decision makers in policy

formation for three key themes:

                - Governance and Security in the Arctic;

                - Transportation and Energy Development; and

                - Changing Arctic Ecosystems.

The Forum will examine the current state of policymaker and public understanding of the issues. An important goal will be to foster an increased capacity for dialogue and action on arctic science-policy issues.


American Polar Society 75th Anniversary Meeting and Symposium, "The Polar Regions in the 21st Century: Globalization, Climate Change and Geopolitics", May 2-4, 2012, The Explorers Club, NYC. For 75 years, the American Polar Society has both documented and communicated polar activities to the interested world. This meeting will bring together the current leaders in science, government, commerce, and diplomacy for a state-of-the-art forecast of the next seventy-five years in a world influenced more than ever before by the destiny of the Arctic and Antarctic. Click here.  


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. Click here.  


15th International Congress on Circumpolar Health, August 5-10, 2012. This event 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 healthmeetinglogoindigenous 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. Click here


The Arctic Imperative Summit, August 24-28, 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. Click here


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 inuitconferencelogomuseums 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, click here. 

USARC header

Find us on FacebookFollow us on Twitter 

4350 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 510
Arlington, VA 22203, USA 
(703) 525-0111 (phone)