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September 11, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


In honor of September 11th, several House committees will hold oversight hearings on terrorism and homeland security. The House is expected to consider a land exchange bill and a reauthorization of an electronic surveillance law on the floor today. The Senate is expected to hold a vote on a motion to proceed on a veterans' jobs bill.



capitalLawmakers Set to Leave Washington Early to Get on Campaign Trail. Congress is poised to recess at the end of next week as vulnerable incumbents have convinced their leaders that their time is better spent at home campaigning than in Washington. Having just returned from a five-week recess, the "Hello, I Must Be Going" strategy is not without risks, or controversy. Some members want to stay deep into September to pass lingering legislation, such as the farm bill. The Hill  




House GOP Leaders Unveil "Clean" CR. House Republican leaders are pitching a stopgap funding bill to members as having only a few non-controversial provisions added on, meeting the promise of a "clean" continuing resolution that can be cleared quickly. The House set a vote for Sept. 13 on the CR (H J Res 117), introduced Monday with only a handful of riders - most of them related to defense, nuclear, wildfire and border security programs - that will keep the government running through March 27 and will avoid the threat of a shutdown before the November elections. It is one of the few bills Congress has to consider in its abbreviated work period this month, and House leaders are hoping that rapid approval will enable lawmakers to return to their home districts without major new showdowns that would unsettle some campaigns. Congressional Quarterly 


Rand Paul Could Stall Senate Work Departure Over Pakistan. Sen. Rand Paul upped the ante Monday in his bid to secure a vote on cutting off aid to Pakistan, threatening to delay the Senate's quick escape planned for later this month. In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the Kentucky Republican called for an immediate vote to end U.S. foreign aid to the country. Roll Call


Defense Panels Seek Few Extensions in CR. Appropriators and defense authorizers inserted only a handful of extensions of expiring Pentagon authorities into a six-month continuing resolution, which both the Senate and House plan to send to the president during this truncated September work session. Authorizers prefer a limited number of extensions to avoid undercutting the logic of completing the fiscal 2013 defense authorization bill (S 3254, HR 4310). One key extension that lawmakers included in the bill (H J Res 117) involves expiring purchasing authorities in the Afghanistan theater of operations. The bill also would allow additional funding for nuclear modernization efforts, a key Republican priority. Congressional Quarterly


shellShell Halts Drilling in Alaska's Chukchi Sea: Offshore drilling stops due to 'potentially encroaching sea ice.' After less than a day of "historic" drilling offshore Alaska's North Slope, Shell decided to stop drilling in the Chukchi Sea due to sea ice. As a precautionary measure, the oil company said Sept. 10 that it would temporarily move off its Burger well to avoid "potentially encroaching sea ice." Once the ice moves on, Shell's drill ship, the Noble Discoverer, planned to re-connect to its eight anchors and continue drilling. NunatsiaqOnline


Russian Arctic Expedition Finds New Island. A Russian Arctic expedition has discovered a new island in the Franz Josef Land archipelago. Arctic explorers first hypothesized that the new island could have split away from larger Northbrook Island back in 2006 but bad weather prevented a previous expedition from finding proof. The Arctic-2012 expedition, which set off from Murmansk on Saturday on board the Rossiya nuclear icebreaker, took photographs of the new strait that has formed between the two islands and fixed the coordinates of the coastline. RIA Novosti 


Iceland President OlafurIceland's President Weighs in on Impact of Rapidly Disappearing Arctic Ice. Iceland is in a unique position as far as the changing global environment. The northern country not only sees the melting ice, but also has a front-row seat for the effort to convert to a clean-energy economy. Iceland uses clean energy for virtually all of its electricity and heating. Environmental activists aren't the only ones to see threats from fossil fuels in the Arctic; world leaders see threats too. But they also see opportunities. A warming climate means that sea ice in the far north is melting faster than ever expected. That was one of the topics under discussion the recent Arctic Imperative summit in Alaska, where Iceland's President Olafur Grimsson delivered the keynote address. Public Radio International 


Study Maps Pollution's Pathway to the Arctic, Sets Path for Future Research: MIT Researchers have built a model that will be further developed as part of an NSP-funded project to track how chemicals get to remote Arctic environments. It's been more than a decade since global leaders met in Stockholm, Sweden, to sign a treaty with the goal of eliminating persistent organic pollutants making their way into our food chain - such as harmful pesticides like DDT that nearly wiped out the American Bald Eagle. While leaders have come a long way in restricting these types of pollutants, contamination of the Arctic remains a problem. Researchers at MIT are working to help inform policies that more effectively address contamination problems with their latest research and the help of a new grant from the National Science Foundation. MIT News 


Oil Drilling in AlaskaArctic Sea Ice Vanishes - and the oil rigs move in: As Arctic sea ice melts to its lowest level on record, oil companies move in to begin drilling the far north. The state of the Arctic, which is bad, may have just made the dreaded jump to worse. This summer, the sea ice that caps the Arctic Ocean melted to the lowest level since at least 1979, when satellites first began keeping track of ice over the North Pole. By the end of August, the National Snow Ice and Data Center (NSIDC) reported that Arctic ice had fallen to 1.54 million sq. miles (4 million sq. km). That's nearly six times the size of Texas, but it's still 45% less than the average for August throughout the 1980s and 90s - and as of now the ice is still shrinking. Nor is 2012 an anomaly - the ice cap has been shrinking over the years as temperatures have increased, and now some scientists believe the total volume of Arctic ice is only a quarter of what it was 30 years ago. "By itself it's just a number, and occasionally records are going to get set," NSIDC scientist Walt Meier said at the end of August in a statement. "But in the context of what's happened in the last several years and throughout the satellite record, it's an indication that the Arctic sea ice cover is fundamentally changing." Time 


Orca KillerWhale Surveys Spot Killer Whales in Alaska Arctic. Scientists counting marine mammals off Alaska's Arctic Ocean coast spotted two large groups of killer whales last month, but orca experts are not ready to say the species has increased its numbers in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. An aerial survey crew Aug. 20 spotted 13 killer whales 6.2 miles northeast of Barrow, America's northernmost community. The flight was part of a bowhead whale survey sponsored by the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and other federal agencies. Five days later, crew members aboard the Westward Wind, a vessel in the Chukchi Sea Environmental Studies Program, which is conducting research on behalf of oil companies, spotted 25 to 30 orcas near Hanna Shoal, a shallow-water area northwest of Barrow. Fairbanks Daily News-Miner 


Where do Alaska Lawmakers Stand on Law of the Sea Treaty? Alaska U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski has been for years trying to muster up the Republican side of the 67 senate votes required for ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty. The treaty deals with international waterways, marine boundaries, and access to sub-sea resources in the Arctic Ocean. Democrats are by and large supportive. The problem since the 1980s has been with the GOP. Most recently, Republican senators, emboldened by tea party favorite Sen. Jim DeMint, blocked ratification of the treaty in July, citing sovereignty concerns. And in August, tea party factions in the party managed to insert the following language about the treaty in the national platform: Because of our concern for American sovereignty, domestic management of our fisheries, and our countries long-term energy needs, we have deep reservations about the regulatory, legal, and tax regimes inherent in the Law of the Sea Treaty and congratulate Senate Republicans for blocking its ratification. Alaska Dispatch 


Eye Under the Ice: Ocean Networks Canada facility will collect data on sea ice, produce images of underwater marine life. Data on when sea ice melts and freezes as well as images of underwater marine life will be available to Cambridge Bay residents an Arctic mini-observatory is installed later this month. Ocean Networks Canada recently obtained a five-year research licence from the Nunavut Research Institute to install a cabled seafloor observatory and surface weather station off the community's coast. The non-for-profit organization, responsible for managing the observatory on behalf of the University of Victoria, will likely install the instrument platform six to 10 metres underwater and linked by cable to the wharf this month. Northern News Service 


canadian flagCanada Looks North. [Opinion]  Canada's failure to gain a seat on the UN Security Council two years ago was seen as a blow to this country's influence on the international stage. How serious a blow is a matter of interpretation. But there are many ways in which countries can exert international influence and in a few months Canada will be handed the reins to an organization that includes two of the world's superpowers and is rapidly gaining importance and relevance. When Canada takes the lead of the Arctic Council for two years, beginning in 2013, it will have the opportunity to set the agenda and tone for international relations around what is quickly becoming one of the most strategically crucial parts of the world, the Arctic. Ottawa Citizen

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No formal action was taken on Arctic legislation.

Future Events                      


Debate on Arctic Challenges Set for Brussels, October 4-5, 2012.The challenges facing the Arctic during a time of change and global warming uncertainty will be the subject of frank and lively debate between policymakers, Ambassadors from European Union and Arctic nations, polar scientists, and representatives industry and Arctic indigenous peoples groups, at the 2012 Arctic Futures Symposium, taking place in Brussels on October 4th and 5th. High-level speakers include Prince Albert II of Monaco, Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Belgian Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and European Affairs Didier Reynders, and Charles Emmerson, Chatham House Senior Research Fellow on Energy, Environment and Resources, and author of The Future History of the Arctic.  Guest speakers will also include Sweden's Arctic Ambassador Gustav Lind, Greenland's Deputy Foreign Minister Inuuteq Holm Olsen, Robert Blaauw, Senior Advisor to Shell's Arctic programme, Bernard Funston, Chair of the Canadian Polar Commission, British Antarctic Survey glaciologist Prof. David Vaughan and Lars-Anders Baer, chair of the Working Group of Indigenous Peoples in the Barents Euro-Arctic Region.


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.  


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. 


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.

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