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November 8, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


Congress is not in session today.  Congress will return next week.



New House Rules Would Limit Frosh Influence, Grease Skids for Suspension Bills. The House Republican Conference will vote on new rules next week that would limit the influence of freshmen at the leadership table and make it easier to bring up bills under suspension of the rules. After the record GOP wave of 2010, leadership made sure that two Members of the freshman class became part of leadership. Reps. Time Scott (S.C.) and Kristi Noem (S.D.) were elected by their peers to become part of leadership and sit on the Republican Steering Committee. Roll Call 


BoehnerAmid New Challenges, Boehner Stresses Unity at Leadership Table. Back in the saddle again, Rep. John Boehner (R-Ohio) plans to do things differently this time around. On Tuesday, the Speaker retained his title, but he now faces a lonely battle against a Democratic president with new political capital and a larger Democratic majority in the Senate. A source close to Boehner said the Ohio lawmaker learned valuable lessons from his tumultuous first two years as Speaker, when he battled President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). The Hill 


Shell in ChukchiIn Election Results, Oil and Renewables Foresee Different Futures. Energy interests woke up Wednesday morning with distinctly different feelings: Many oil, gas and coal interests were, to put it mildly, uneasy while renewable-energy interests were elated. Declaring energy winners and losers a day after the election might prove over time to be risky, but that didn't stop renewable- and clean-technology interests from declaring a flat-out victory and from demanding more - such as blocking the Keystone XL pipeline. The oil industry, meanwhile, fretted about the possibility of additional regulations and taxes. Jack Gerard, the president and chief executive of the American Petroleum Institute, said pitting one energy industry against another runs counter to the president's "all of the above" strategy. Congressional Quarterly


harry reidSenate Leader Says He's Ready to Deal, Suggests House Speaker is Too. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said he is ready to compromise on taxes and budget cuts, and he's hopeful that House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, is also set to deal following a "pleasant" Wednesday morning conversation with Boehner. Reid called Tuesday's election results a signal that Americans are "tired of partisan gridlock." "I am going to do everything in my power to be as conciliatory as possible. We want to work together," Reid said at a Wednesday news conference, while warning Democrats refuse "to be pushed around." Government Executive 


Environmentalists Race to Put Climate Change Back on Agenda. After two years of seeing their top priority relegated to the political sidelines, environmentalists are signaling that they expect President Obama to follow through on his past pledges to tackle global warming during his second term. Environmentalists wasted no time in reminding President Obama about their opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline, which is widely expected to win approval next year. Congressional Quarterly 




Summaries of congressional changes:


Senate Indian Affairs. Although Washington Democrat  Maria Cantwell is fifth in line in the current makeup of the committee, it is likely that she will be the next to take the gavel. Chairman Daniel K. Akaka, D-Hawaii, is retiring, and fellow HawaiianDaniel K. Inouye, who is next in seniority, is expected to keep his post as Appropriations chairman. Third in line, North Dakota Democrat Kent Conrad, is also retiring, and South Dakota Democrat Tim Johnson, who would otherwise follow, probably will stay on as Banking chairman. However, unlike other committees, Indian Affairs leadership is not necessarily based on seniority. In addition, Cantwell is a subcommittee chairwoman on two other panels - Commerce, Science and Transportation, and Energy and Natural Resources - which could come into play in whether she takes over Indian Affairs. If she doesn't become chairwoman, that leaves Montana's Jon Tester or possibly New Mexico's Tom Udall. Congressional Quarterly


Senate Health, Education, Labor & Pensions. Maintaining the majority in the 113th Congress could give committee Democrats another shot at some of their stalled priorities. But it's unclear whether Republicans will be willing to give any more ground. Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa will almost surely keep his chairman's spot on the panel, and most of the other current members probably will return. The committee will devote much of its time to education, with reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and the Higher Education Act two priorities. Inertia and division between the parties stalled the ESEA reauthorization last year and may delay it again. Congressional Quarterly


Senate Energy & Natural Resources. Ron Wyden won't officially take control of the committee until January, but the Oregon Democrat has spent much of the past year preparing for the transition to power. From Louisiana's wetlands to North Dakota's oil fields to an Alaskan liquefied-natural-gas plant, Wyden has logged thousands of miles touring the home states of his energy-panel colleagues. It's part of a coordinated effort by Wyden and ranking Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska to move the committee beyond a policy impasse that stalled energy legislation in the current Congress. Congressional Quarterly 


Senate Environment & Public Works. The unlikely tandem of Chairwoman Barbara Boxer and ranking Republican James M. Inhofe will split up in the coming Congress. David Vitter of Louisiana is in line to replace Inhofe as the panel's top Republican, breaking up the unlikely partnership that succeeded in passing comprehensive surface transportation and aviation authorization laws this year. Inhofe is limited under Republican caucus rules from another term as ranking member. Congressional Quarterly 


Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation. Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV, D-W.Va., is staying put. But the incoming ranking member is widely expected to be Jim DeMint, R-S.C., an uncompromising conservative whose aversion to new regulation and to government spending has made him a tea party favorite. DeMint is likely to set a more combative tone in the new Congress than would Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas or Olympia J. Snowe of Maine, the No. 1 and No. 2 committee Republicans, both of whom are retiring. Congressional Quarterly


House Science, Space & Technology. A new chairman will lead this committee, which will also get a batch of new members as it faces two major science policy items up for renewal in the 113th Congress. Expiring in 2013 are the authorizations of both NASA and the America COMPETES Act, which covers the National Science Foundation; a slate of research and development initiatives; and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education programs. Congress last reauthorized both measures in 2010. Congressional Quarterly


House Natural Resources. Western lawmakers will continue to steer the House Natural Resources Committee, although it remains unclear exactly who will wield the gavel. Amid speculation that current Chairman Doc Hastings of Washington might move into the Rules Committee chairmanship, fellow Republican Rob Bishop of Utah would be a likely pick. Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts will continue to lead committee Democrats. Markey is a champion of renewable energy and a frequent critic of nuclear power and the oil industry, which puts him at odds with the panel's GOP majority. Congressional Quarterly


House Energy & Commerce. Committee Republicans approved countless measures in the current Congress signaling their displeasure with the Obama administration's energy and environment policies and health care overhaul. They're expected to pick up where they left off in the next Congress. The defeat of Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Cliff Stearns, R-Fla., in his primary makes room for an up-and-coming Republican, such as Lee Terry of Nebraska or Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, to ascend the leadership ladder. The opening could also launch a game of musical chairmanships if one of the current subcommittee leaders decides to pursue a more high-profile position. Congressional Quarterly


House Appropriations. The Appropriations Committee will remain at the center of bitter fights in the House over spending, with the GOP majority intent on whittling federal operating expenses even after two solid years of slimming down discretionary spending. Absent a larger post-election agreement between Democrats and Republicans, the 113th Congress likely will see a reprise of the battles fought in the previous Congress. Still, appropriators are likely to seek bipartisan accord where possible on bills, something that is far more likely on measures such as the Military Construction-VA spending plan than on perennially divisive bills on health, labor and environmental programs. Congressional Quarterly


Other Arctic News:

russian flagA Mushroom Cloud on the Horizon for Arctic. Russia's military and political leaders are planning to beef up security at the country's last remaining nuclear test site on the Novaya Zemlya archipelago. Through 2013, the region will see the deployment of MiG-31 supersonic interceptors, while the Northern Fleet will be on permanent combat duty just off the coast. In Soviet times, such measures were always a sign that full-scale nuclear testing was about to be underway. In 1963, the leaders of the Soviet Union and the United States signed a treaty banning nuclear tests in three environments: the atmosphere, outer space, and under water. Restrictions were also imposed on the strength of test devices. When the agreement was signed, Novaya Zemlya in the Arctic Ocean switched exclusively to underground testing, which rules out the possibility of radioactive contamination. Russia & Indian Report


Shell Trying to Get Out of Arctic After Ending Drilling Season. More than a week after completing its preliminary oil and gas drilling operations, Royal Dutch Shell is trying to get its equipment out of the rapidly freezing Alaska Arctic. Popular Mechanics reports that as of Tuesday, "some of the oil giant's vessels are still in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas north of the Alaska coast -- and the winter ice is forming." The magazine website adds: "While the ice doesn't pose any near-term danger, the delay highlights the logistical challenges facing Shell as it launches the first offshore Arctic drilling to take place in U.S. waters since the 1990s." Alaska Dispatch 


Canadian Archeologist Looks for Viking Presence in Arctic. Canadian archaeologist Pat Sutherland has spent the last 13 years studying artifacts found on Canada's mainland and Baffin Island. Sutherland is searching for evidence that might prove a link between Viking travelers and the Dorset people, a culture that inhabited parts of Canada 2,000 years before Alaska's Inuit moved in. According to the BBC, Sutherland has uncovered Norse artifacts akin to ones made in Greenland and other European Viking sites. She told the BBC, "There are three groups of artifacts found over a 1,500 km of coastline from north Baffin to northern Labrador from sites that were occupied by the Dorset people that suggest a Norse presence." Among the three groups were a cord made of animal hair, similar to ones found in Greenland; notched sticks thought to be used in trading or as calendars by Vikings; and objects called whetestones, used for tool sharpening. Alaska Dispatch


Health Minister Should Not Head Arctic Council: Bevington. Western Arctic MP Dennis Bevington is standing by his position that the Foreign Affairs Minister should be chair of the next Arctic Council, and not Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq.The NDP member said the issues facing all the Arctic Council countries are international in scope and require a higher profile.  "When it comes to the Arctic, it's an issue that the whole world is turning its head to. In Great Britain, whether it's in China, whether it's in Singapore, all over the world people are conscious that the Arctic is changing so rapidly, and there has to be an international response to that." HQ Yellowknife 

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No Arctic legislation was formally considered yesterday.

Future Events                      


1st International Symposium on Small Satellites for Arctic and Maritime Operations and Research: November 9, 2012. Taksha University; the Global Maritime Awareness Institute for Safety, Security, and Stewardship; The Taksha Institute for Small Satellite Space Systems; and the Journal of Small Satellites will host this symposium. The symposium will consider the safety and security of the Arctic environment and global maritime assets, including the protection of the maritime environment and its resources, as well as the people and vessels who traverse the waters of the world.


U.S.-Canada Northern Oil and Gas Research Forum (2012) Northern Oil and Gas Research Forum 2012, November 13-15, 2012. The Northern Oil and Gas Research Forum is a biannual event with representation from government, industry, academia, Aboriginal groups, and northerners from both Canada and the United States. The forum provides an opportunity for United States and Canadian decision makers, regulators, Aboriginals, industry members, non-governmental organizations and scientists to discuss current scientific research and future directions for northern oil and gas activities. The focus is on technical, scientific, and engineering research that can be applied to support management and regulatory processes related to oil and gas exploration and development in the North. The North Slope Science Initiative and the U.S. Department of the Interior is hosting, in partnership with our counterparts in Canada and the United States, the third United States - Canada Northern Oil and Gas Research Forum from November 13 to 15, 2012, at the Hilton Hotel, Anchorage, Alaska. The Forum will showcase the value of Northern scientific research in support of sound decision-making for oil and gas management. 


Arctic Technology Conference, December 3-5, 2012. The burgeoning Arctic arena offers a host of opportunities for companies that can solve the complex environmental, physical and regulatory challenges it presents. ATC 2012 will include a highly specialized technical program, education courses, networking events, and an exhibition - all deisgned to help ensure that oil and gas professionals throughout the world are prepared to succeed in these challenging Arctic arenas.


Arctic Transportation Infrastructure: Response Capacity and Sustainable Development in the Arctic, December 3-6, 2012. The Arctic Council's Sustainable Development Working Group approved a project during the Swedish Chairmanship (co-led by the United States and Iceland) to assess transportation infrastructure. The Arctic Marine and Aviation Transportation Infrastructure Initiative (AMATII) seeks to evaluate Northern infrastructure -ports, airports, and response capability - by inventorying maritime and aviation assets in the Arctic. As part of this project, the Institute of the North is hosting an Arctic transportation infrastructure conference 3-6 December at the Icelandair Hotel Natura in Reykjavik, Iceland. The conference theme is "Response Capacity and Sustainable Development in the Arctic." Participants will include policy makers and government officials; aviation and marine subject matter experts from the private, public, independent and academic sectors; as well as community leaders and Permanent Participants.


AGU Fall Meeting, December 3-7, 2012. The American Geophysical Union hosts in fall meeting in San Francisco. Roughly 20,000 scientists will be in attendance. On December 3rd, there will be a town hall meeting entitled "Scientific Drilling in the Polar Regions."The U.S. Ice Drilling Program Office (IDPO) is organizing a Town Hall meeting at the Fall AGU Meeting entitled "TH15G Scientific Drilling in the Polar Regions". Ice sheets and ocean sediments hold important climate evidence from the past. International collaboration for drilling in the polar regions requires coordination between science, technology, and logistics.  The research community is invited to hear updates on recent planning by the IDPO/IDDO, IPICS, ANDRILL, IODP, SCAR-ACE, and WAIS initiatives. Opportunities for community involvement in interdisciplinary planning will be highlighted and input solicited.


Wakefield28th Wakefield Symposium: 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. Call for abstracts, due November 30, 2012. 


International Conference on Arctic Ocean Acidification, May 6-8, 2013. The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP), the Institute of Marine Research, the Norwegian Institute for Water Research, the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research, and the University of British Columbia, Canada, host a conference to consider Arctic Ocean acidification. Topics will include response of Arctic Ocean to increasing CO2 and related changes in the global carbon cycle, social and policy challenges, Arctic Ocean acidification and ecological and biogeochemical coupling, implications of changing Arctic Ocean acidification for northern (commercial and subsistence) fisheries, and future developments.

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