US Arctic Research Commission
February 15, 2011

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The Senate will consider legislation to reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration.  The House will consider FY 2011 spending legislation.


Definition of "Rural." The Rural Development, Research, Biotechnology and Foreign Agriculture Subcommittee of the House Agriculture Committee will hold a hearing to review the definitions of "rural" applied under programs operated by the Department of Agriculture.


Fish and Wildlife Nomination. The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a confirmation hearing on the nomination of Daniel Ashe to be the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Media Reviewtodaysevents  


War Over Spending Kicks Off in Earnest. Republicans blasted President Barack Obama for bypassing the nation's fast-growing entitlements in his $3.7 trillion fiscal 2012 budget blueprint Monday - but they now have to figure out how bold they will be on the issue. While the administration contended that the president's plan returns the deficit to sustainable levels by the middle of the decade after spiking to a record $1.65 trillion this year, Republicans argued the budget fails to deal with fast-rising costs for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Roll Call


Chances Up for Federal Shutdown. The chances of a government shutdown are on shutdowngovtthe rise. With less than three weeks to strike a deal before government funding for the year is scheduled to expire, Republicans and Democrats on Capitol Hill are moving in opposite directions. Lawmakers from both parties stress they want to avoid a rerun of the stalemate that led to a shutdown in late 1995 and early 1996. But the rhetoric on spending has escalated, and Democratic and GOP officials are already prepping for the blame game. The Hill  


Russia Embraces Risky Offshore Arctic Drilling. The Arctic Ocean is a forbidding place for oil drillers. But that is not stopping Russia from jumping in - or Western oil companies from eagerly following. Russia, where onshore oil reserves are slowly dwindling, last month signed an Arctic exploration deal with the British petroleum giant BP, whose offshore drilling prospects in the United States were dimmed by the Gulf of Mexico disaster last year. Other Western oil companies, recognizing Moscow's openness to new ocean drilling, are now having similar discussions with Russia. New York Times


International Arctic Climate Study to Start. Canada and its Arctic allies will launch a major study this spring to help northern nations cope with the irreversible effects of climate change. The speedy melting of polar ice is the driving force behind the Arctic Council's decision to announce the wide-ranging study. The project, called the Arctic Change Assessment, will be disclosed when Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon and his seven counterparts meet this May in Greenland. CBC News


Arctic Food Subsidy Defended by Ottawa. The federal government is defending its changes to the way food prices are subsidized in remote northern communities, after photographs revealed $29 cheese spread and $77 breaded chicken in a Nunavut hamlet. The photographs, released last week by Nunavut MLA Ron Elliott, showed sky-high grocery prices at the Northern Store in Arctic Bay, a community of about 700 in the territory's High Arctic region. Elliott, who represents Arctic Bay, Resolute and Grise Fiord, said he has heard concerns from constituents about the federal government's changes to its Food Mail Program, which was rebranded as Nutrition North last year. CBC News  


Coast Guard Official Raises Concerns About Spill Response Capabilities in the Arctic. In testimony to Congress, retired Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen stressed polarseathat the lack of functioning icebreakers in Alaska would make it difficult to response to an oil spill in the Arctic.  Allen spoke to the House Transportation subcommittee on Friday about the Deepwater Horizon blowout, and he brough up concerns about the state of the Coast Guard fleet as it related to rescue and response in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. KUCB 


One Inuit Language, Many Inuit Dialects: Arctic language experts grapple with standardization. People from every region of Nunavut gathered in Iqaluit this past week to confront a thorny problem that's bedeviled linguists and educators for more than half a century:  how to create a form of the Inuit language that's understandable in all regions of the territory. "We have to be understandable in all dialects to everyone, from Kugluktuk to Sanikiluaq," Elijah Erkloo, chair of the Inuit Uqausinginnik Taiguusiliuqtiit language authority, said Feb. 10 at a discussion session on language standardization. Nunatsiaq Online 


Tuberculosis in Nunavut: a century of failure. In 1911, when CMAJ began publishing, the seriousness of tuberculosis was such that CMAJ devoted six articles to the topic in its first volume. Among them was the journal's first editorial on tuberculosis, which prophetically noted the then-novel recognition of the role of childhood latent infection in later clinical disease. A century later, Nunavut has recorded the largest tuberculosis outbreak in the territory's 10-year history. At least 100 new active cases were documented in 2010, a population rate 62 times the Canadian average. Worse still, the outbreak involves adolescents and young adults, a pattern consistent with active community transmission. Proper public health measures are in place in Nunavut, but they are under-resourced. School children are screened in kindergarten, grade six and grade nine, and routine screening has been implemented in high-risk facilities such as homeless shelters and prisons. However, for the rest of the population, screening is implemented less successfully, particularly among young people who often have minimal contact with the health system. Directly observed therapy is used for active cases with high completion rates. At present, contact tracing is just as labor and resource intensive. Canadian Medical Association Journal 


Obama Budget Cuts into Alaska Programs: TARGETED: Heating bill aid, Denali Commission, and airports take hits. President Barack Obama's proposed budget for next year calls for a number of spending cuts in Alaska, including up to $10 million in cuts to health care construction overseen by the Denali Commission. The White House on Monday unveiled a $3.7 trillion federal spending plan for the next fiscal year starting Oct. 1. It's expected to reduce the deficit by $1.1 trillion over the next decade. The budget has $33 billion in domestic cuts, including to programs that are important in particular to Alaskans. Among them: $2.5 billion in cuts to a program that helps poor people pay heating bills, a $1 billion cut to money for community water treatment plants and a $1 billion cut to airports. The budget also calls for ending an $18 million grant program for rural electric service that serves Alaska, as well as cutting in half a $34 million Bureau of Land Management program that conveys land to Alaska Natives. Another small program that ensures the subsistence needs of rural Alaskans are met would be shifted to the National Forest System. Anchorage Daily News

Legislative Actionfutureevents

H.R. 1, full-year continuing appropriations. (Rogers- considered on the House floor)

Future Eventsfutureevents      


Fiscal 2012 Budget: Energy Department, February 16.  The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on the fiscal 2012 budget request for the Department of Energy.


Murkowski Alaska State Legislature Address, February 24. Senator Murkowski will deliver her annual address to the Alaska State Legislature.


Canada's Arctic Policy, February 24-25.  The Institute of the North will host a policy discussion on Canada's Arctic Policy with Consul Jennifer Loten.  The policy forum will consider infrastructure deficit, circumpolar environmental response capacity, and Arctic marine traffic systems.


Fiscal 2012 Budget: Interior Department, March 2.  The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on the fiscal 2012 budget request for the Department of Interior.


Fiscal 2012 Budget: Forest Service, March 3.  The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing on the fiscal 2012 budget request for the U.S. Forest Service of the Department of Agriculture.


International Conference on Arctic Marine Science, International Law and Climate Protection, March 17-18. The German Federal Foreign Office is hosting an event that will take place on the Berlin premises of the Federal Office. The event is co-hosted by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, with additional support from prominent research institutes. The Conference will discuss the legal framework for marine scientific research in the Arctic Ocean at present and in the future. Scholars, scientists and diplomats with an interest in the Arctic Ocean are invited to attend. For more information, please contact


Arctic Dialogue & Study Tour, March 22-24, 2011. For the past four years Norway's Bod