Arctic Update Header
July 20, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 



The Senate will consider tax provisions. The House will continue to consider the Department of Defense Appropriations bill.  



Defense Bill Passes With Cuts to Pentagon Budget, Aid for Pakistan, Afghanistan.

The House passed a Defense spending bill Thursday that would provide more than a half-trillion dollars for the Pentagon and national security programs after dispensing with multiple attempts from fiscal hawks and anti-war proponents to push for provisions to curb the Defense Department's acquisition of sophisticated weaponry. Lawmakers passed the nearly $606 billion fiscal 2013 bill (HR 5856) 326-90. It includes $87.7 billion for the war in Afghanistan and other overseas operations. At the beginning of floor consideration, Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers, R-Ky., said the United States "would not be the bastion of freedom without the greatest defense system in the world. Congressional Quarterly


Oil Drilling in AlaskaIt's Not Just Spills- the Climate Risks of Arctic Drilling. Royal Dutch Shell is set to begin drilling in the Arctic waters off Alaska beginning next month, assuming the Obama Administrations doesn't hold off on needed permits at the last-minute. (With President Obama fighting for re-election-and fighting the charge that he's anti-energy-don't bet on it.) That has environmentalists extremely unhappy. As global warming-ironically-opens up once-iced over parts of the Arctic waters to drilling rigs, greens worry that a spill in the hostile environment of the far North is as inevitable as it would be devastating. Shell and other oil companies interested in the Arctic argue that they'll be taking extra precautions in the Arctic, and note that they'll be drilling shallow, low-pressure wells that are less likely to blow out than the deepwater well that caused BP's 2010 Gulf oil spill. But a new report by the NGO Clean Air Task Force (CATF) shows that an oil spill isn't the only risk that Arctic drilling poses to the environment. Methane and black carbon, two potent greenhouses gases, will likely be emitted in significant amounts if drilling in the Arctic proves as lucrative as many oil companies are hoping for. Exactly how much additional greenhouse gas will be released by the production of Arctic oil isn't clear-and depends on whether drillers and regulators take steps to reduce the warming side effects of drilling. "It's ironic that climate change has led to the opening of the Arctic for drilling, but we aren't paying much attention to the climate change that drilling will help cause," says Jonathan Banks, senior climate policy advisor for CATF and the author of the report. TIME 


arcticcouncilArctic Council to Convene Business Dialogue. The Arctic Council will convene its first-ever "Business Dialogue" (Reykjavik, 17 September, 2012) to engage responsible industry interaction via its Sustainable Development Working Group. The day before, the World Ocean Council will hold an "Arctic Business Community" meeting (Reykjavik, 16 September, 2012) to develop coordinated, multi-sectoral input to the Business Dialogue from shipping, oil and gas, fisheries, aquaculture, tourism and other industries. Gustaf Lind, Sweden's Ambassador for the Arctic, and Chair of the Senior Arctic Officials of the Arctic Council, emphasized that, "The changing Arctic is creating new opportunities for transport, mining, tourism and many other activities. Sustainable development requires socially and environmentally responsible companies who recognize the challenges and responsibilities of operating in this unique and sensitive region." He added that, "Until now, there has been no structure or process for dialogue between the business community and the eight Arctic governments - nor has there been a forum for multi-sectoral collaboration among responsible companies with interests in the Arctic." Maritime Executive 


Canadian Arctic: "A Litany of Missed Opportunities." The Arctic presents 'unprecedented' opportunity for companies, especially in petroleum and mineral resources, but also comes with signficant risks as the area goes through rapid climate change, says Charles Emmerson, Senior Research Fellow, Energy, Environment and Resources at Chatham House and author of the book The Future History of The Arctic. Mr. Emmerson spoke to Financial Post, about where Canada is placed in the great race for Arctic resources. Mineral and hydrocarbon resources in the Arctic has been well-documented for decades. So what's driving the new surge in interest - is it climate change? Climate change and the change in ice coverage in Arctic is really an enabling factor for Arctic exploration for oil and gas. But it is not the key driver. If you look at early periods of exploration and exploitation of Arctic oil and gas, for example, in the 1970s and 1980s, it wasn't because of tremendous change in environmental conditions, it was because the price was right for oil and gas. Financial Post  


Canada Orders 7 Patrol Ships, But Are They The Best For Arctic Waters? Canada's Arctic/Offshore Patrol Ships (AOPS) have been in the pipeline for five years. Now, Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government has signed a CAN $9.3 million contract with the Nova Scotia-based Irving Shipbuilding to begin work on the vessels. It's an important first step, as for a while the number of AOPS that Canada would acquire was in flux. However, the amount of money represented by the contract is quite small, as the ships are estimated to cost $3.1 billion to acquire and a another $4.3 billion to maintain. With the funding from the initial contract, Irving Shipbuilding will review the existing blueprints for the AOPS and begin working on an execution strategy. Alaska Dispatch 


Arctic Drilling is Expensive. Ask the Coast Guard. Royal Dutch Shell is one of six energy companies hoping to begin drilling for oil and gas in the Arctic next month, and the U.S. Coast Guard is billions of dollars short of what it needs to monitor and protect those operations, according to a report. According to a joint report by the Congressional Research Team and the Coast Guard, it lacks the necessary communication and navigation systems for the Arctic, and will need at least $3 billion invested in new vessels and equipment, if it hopes to function effectively within the cold, rough seas of the area. CNBC News

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No Arctic legislation was formally considered yesterday.

Future Events    


healthmeetinglogo15th 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 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.


98th meeting of the US Arctic Research Commission, August 9-10, 2012. Fairbanks, AK. For more information, go to USARC 98th Meeting Draft Agenda 


Week of the Arctic, August 13-18, 2012. The Arctic is front and center in peoples' minds.  Increased maritime traffic and new opportunities for development have brought about more reasons to understand and work toward safe and secure operations both on land and off Alaska's coast. To help Alaskans understand these critical challenges and issues at stake in the Arctic, the Institute convened the first Week of the Arctic last year, drawing over 550 participants to five events in four days. The 2012 Week of the Arctic will take place August 13-18 in Anchorage, Alaska. Week of the Arctic events will include:

The Week of the Arctic's signature event is the annual Robert O. Anderson Sustainable Arctic Award Dinner on Friday, August 17th. This year we'll be recognizing Red Dog Mine for their sustainable development in the North.


2nd Cargo Airships of Northern Operations Workshop, August 22-24, 2012. Researchers from NASA Ames Research Center will provide insights into the new technologies that form the solid engineering basis for modern cargo airship systems. Speakers from the mining, oil, and gas industries will describe their transportation challenges and how they plan to exploit cargo airships in support of their businesses. Local Alaskan air freight firms will discuss how cargo airships can complement existing air transport fleets by providing additional capability and expanding air shipping services. The world's leading developers of airships will provide design and operational details on new cargo airships they're currently developing and preparing to deploy for commercial service. Representatives from the financial community will present the many options available for what has often been the missing element of airship development and operations, funding. The website will soon be updated. 


The Arctic Imperative Summit, August 24-27, 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.


inuitconferencelogoArctic/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.  


Responses of Arctic Marine Ecosystems to Climate Change, March 26-29, 2013. This symposium seeks to advance our understanding of  responses of arctic marine ecosystems to climate change at all trophic levels, by documenting and forecasting changes in environmental processes and species responses to those changes. Presentations will focus on collaborative approaches to understanding and managing living marine resources in a changing Arctic, and to managing human responses to changing arctic marine ecosystems. Hosted by Alaska Sea Grant and sponsors.

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