Arctic Update Header
September 25, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 

    

The House and Senate are not in session.

MediaMedia 

 

budgetNew 'Gang of Six' Vows 'Balanced' Deal to Avert Sequester. A new group of six Senators committed Monday to working on a "balanced" package to avert the year-end budget cuts required by sequestration. Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and ranking member John McCain (R-Ariz.) led the letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) Roll Call

  

 

 

polarseaIcebreakers Would Be Protected from Decommissioning in Coast Guard Bill. The Coast Guard reauthorization bill advanced by the Senate over the weekend would reverse House-passed language that would have forced the service to decommission two of its three icebreakers. Indeed, the new language would bar the agency from doing away with those vessels. When the House began consideration of the legislation (HR 2838) last fall, lawmakers in charge of Coast Guard issues homed in on a section that would have mandated the decommissioning of its only two heavy-duty icebreakers. The language had gone largely unnoticed until floor debate, so House legislators concerned about the requirement opted to let the measure move forward while they talked over changes with Senate leaders. Congressional Quarterly

  

russian flagRanking Democrat on House Armed Services Praises Obama's Russia Policy. The ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee on Friday offered a strong defense of the Obama administration's Russia policy, while also taking a realist approach to future prospects for cooperation between the two former Cold War foes. Speaking at the Center for American Progress, Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., said President Obama approached "it exactly right" when he entered office in 2009 - "we should reset the relationship; we should look for ways to work with Russia on things where we can agree." Congressional Quarterly

 

Arctic a Sea of Opportunity for Maersk Drilling. Maersk's oil drilling subsidiary is investing heavily in Arctic-ready drilling rigs, a move that is concerning environmental organizations. Maersk Drilling is going to be a key player in opening the Arctic to oil exploration by developing rigs that can drill for oil year-round under extreme conditions.Speaking to financial daily BÝrsen, Claus Hemmingsen, head of Maersk Drilling, said the company was investing heavily in developing the technology to unlock the Arctic's bounty. The Copenhagen Post 

 

Fuel Crisis Threatens Remote Alaskan Island Village. While Shell Oil searches for petroleum riches beneath the Arctic Ocean north of Alaska's coastline, the fate of a remote island located a bit south in the Bering Sea hinges on obtaining fossil fuel. Where Shell seeks resource extraction, the tiny Native village of St. George needs the consumer products that come after crude is refined. Where Shell is looking for long-term gains, St. George is looking to survive next month and through the winter.  There is an urgent need to make sure the remote village 750 miles west of Anchorage will have fuel this winter to heat homes, power vehicles, and sustain the diesel electric plant for the some 100 residents of the island. After two decades, the island's only fuel business is dissolving. But this isn't the first time the people of the Pribilof Islands have faced uncertainty. Alaska Dispatch 

 

arctic shippingCould Arctic Oil Shipping Revitalize Economic Fortunes for Aleutians? Signs of a huge investment in the past abound here in this Aleutian Islands community more than 1,000 miles from Anchorage, Alaska's largest city and center of commerce. The huge storage buildings, long docks for ships, and stylish suburban housing for thousands of military personnel and families are nearly all empty, following the end of the Cold War between the United States and former Soviet Union. The Naval Air Facility closed in the 1990s because of the absence of an enemy that made the remote site's high maintenance costs worthwhile, thanks to fear as a funding source. Now, the new owners see a model for the future in Memphis, Tennessee, and they're not talking about going to Grace Land, even though some skeptics might consider hopes for the future of Adak as about as realistic as sightings of Elvis Presley. Alaska Dispatch 

 

Ice Study Measures Melt. A University of Calgary researcher is looking into the behavior and composition of Canada's Arctic ice pack and is concerned about the speed with which it is changing and melting. John Yackel compared this years ice levels to historical records and he is convinced that the Arctic ice cover is disappearing and there is almost nothing that can be done about it. "This is the smallest extent of ice cover we have seen in the last 33 years, possibly a million years," said Yackel."There's likely not a lot we can do to stop the feedback loop, I'm talking about where the sun melts more ice, exposes more water, allows more sunlight to be absorbed and that feedback loop is well underway and it will be very hard to stop it with any changes we make in the near or midterm future." CTV 

 

Russia, World's Worst Oil Polluter, Now Drilling in Arctic: Climate change creates new opportunities, risks in Russia's north. As climate change alters the Arctic landscape, shrinking the ice cover on sea and land, it opens up more of the region to resource exploitation. On Sept. 16, the ice cover in the Arctic Ocean reached the record for the smallest area since satellite tracking began. For decades, Russia has been the pioneer in Arctic development, and it continues to forge ahead. Some of the consequences of that development can be gleaned from a Russian government report that outlines its program for protecting the Russian Arctic Environment. "The concentration of heavy metals in soils, plants, and animals, in water and snow, in sea ice and bottom sediments is increasing nearly everywhere" according to the report, released in 2009, with an English edition. CBC News

Legislative Actionfutureevents  

 

H.J. Res 117, the Continuing Appropriations Resolution, 2013 (Rep. Rogers, message on Senate passage sent to the House)

 

H.R. 2838, Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation Act (LoBiondo, message on Senate passage sent to the House)

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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