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September 12, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The House will continue to consider a land exchange bill and reauthorization of an electronic surveillance law. The Senate will consider a veterans' jobs bill.



budgetSequester Deal Unlikely For Now. Lawmakers continue to raise alarms over automatic cuts due to begin in January, but there is growing pessimism that anything can be done before the election to head off these cuts. House Republican and Democratic leaders said they expect no significant movement during the short pre-election session toward an agreement to alter the sequester put in place by last summer's debt limit deal. And members of the Senate's bipartisan "Gang of Eight" said after their meeting Tuesday they see little hope of a breakthrough. "I don't think that we should necessarily expect that everything can or will be resolved before the election," said Michael D. Crapo, R-Idaho. "And, in fact, I think it will be very hard to put together almost any kind of deal before the election." Congressional Quarterly


canadian flagHey [Canadian] Taxpayers, Guess Who Foots the Bill for Arctic Oil Spills? Last week the Canadian Government closed bidding from oil companies to explore 905,000 hectares in the Arctic Ocean. The area is equivalent to 1.1 million football fields. After 20 years of inactivity, a new wave of exploration is expected. In the wake of the 2010 BP Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico, our government needs to make changes to our outdated liability regime. Currently, the Canadian taxpayer is liable for offshore oil spills in the Arctic. Our government needs to adhere to the polluter pays principle. Huffington Post  


House Passes Bill Limited Federal Agencies' Travel Expenses. The House on Tuesday passed legislation that would cap federal agency spending on travel and conferences, a move likely catalyzed by reports earlier this year about one particular agency abusing such allowances. By voice vote, the chamber passed the amended bill (HR 4631) that would limit travel budgets through fiscal 2017 to 70 percent of the total an agency spent on travel in fiscal 2010 and also cap conference spending. Agencies would be prohibited from sending more than 50 U.S.-based employees to international conferences and spending more than $500,000 on a single conference. Such caps have waivers for particular national interests. Congressional Quarterly


arctic shippingPiloting Vessels in Northern Sea Route: Russia's practical achievements in Arctic transport development. The Northern Sea Route is bounded by western entrances to the straits of Novaya Zemlya and the meridian passing north of Desire Cape, and in the east, in the Bering Strait, by the parallel 66 degrees north latitude and the meridian 168 degrees 58 minutes 37 seconds west longitude. The length of the Northern Sea Route from the Kara Gate to the Bay of Providence is about 5600 km. The distance from St. Petersburg to Vladivostok on the Northern Sea Route is more than 14 thousand miles (over 23 thousand km through the Suez Canal). Active exploration of the NSR commenced in the 20th Century with the advent of the icebreaker. The route was actively used during the Soviet era. In 1987 NSR freight traffic reached its peak, 6.7 million tons. But after the collapse of the Soviet Union the NSR fell into a deep crisis and stayed practically unused. From 1987 to 2011 the freight traffic among the NSR ports decreased over three times, and some of them (Amderma, Dixon) practically stopped functioning. In 2010, NSR transit traffic was a mere 110,000 tons (4 vessels). Voice of Russia 


New Discovery: Arctic foxes trek to Iceland during the Little Ice Age. A multidisciplinary team of scientists led by Dr. Greger Larson, at Durham University's Department of Archaeology, reported the first evidence that arctic fox migration during the Little Ice Age is responsible for the genetic diversity of arctic foxes in Iceland today in the Proceedings of the Roryal Society B-Biological Sciences on September 11, 2012. The research was reviewed at the Eureka Alert web site the same day. The scientists compared DNA samples from ancient remains of Icelandic arctic foxes dating from two late 9th to 12th Century archaeological sites and DNA data from modern arctic fox populations. The Little Ice Age lasted from the 16th to 19th centuries. A population of arctic foxes was established in Iceland before the Little Ice Age. Examiner 


Sovereignty Issues Loom as Arctic Sea Ice Shrinks: Global Focus on Region's Resources Intensifying. With rapidly shrinking Arctic ice and expanding interest in northern shipping and resource exploitation, issues of sovereignty loom ever larger over the northern landscape. The Arctic region is incredibly vast. While land boundaries between the Arctic nations are, for the most part, clearly established, ownership of more than 14 million square kilometres of Arctic Ocean - an area equal to the size of Russia - is not quite as clear. CBC News 


permafrostPermafrost Thaw Will Speed Up Global Warming, Study Says. Permafrost soils in Canada's Arctic are melting at a rate that will significantly speed up global warming, according to new research from the University of Victoria. The study, published this week in Nature Geoscience, predicts that the thawing permafrost will release between 68 billion and 508 billion tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere by the year 2100. As a result of those carbon emissions, researchers say the Earth's temperature will rise by more than 0.5 C by the end of the century. CBC News

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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