House Science Chairman Seeks to Block Funding for New 'Climate Service.' Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Texas), the chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, is seeking to block funding for the overhaul of major federal climate change research and monitoring programs. Hall - who questions climate science - wants to amend House spending legislation to prevent the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) from proceeding with creation of a new "Climate Service." Hall's plan would amend the continuing resolution that's on the House floor this week - it's the bill to fund the federal government through the end of fiscal year 2011. His amendment would prevent any of the money from being used to "implement, establish, or create" the Climate Service. NOAA is seeking to better integrate its various climate-related functions. The Hill
White House Threatens to Veto 2011 Funding Measure. The threat of a government shutdown looms a little larger in Washington Tuesday afternoon after President Obama officially threatened to veto legislation currently being considered by the House that would fund the government for remainder of the 2011 fiscal year. House Republicans want to cut about $60 billion from current discretionary spending levels. "If the president is presented with a bill that undermines critical priorities or national security through funding levels or restrictions, contains earmarks, or curtails the drivers of long-term economic growth and job creation while continuing to burden future generations with deficits, the president will veto the bill," the White House said in a statement of administration policy. The House GOP proposal is designed to replace the current continuing resolution, which expires on March 4. But because the measure is the first spending bill of the year, Republicans are using it to make good on a campaign promise to cut $100 billion in discretionary spending compared with President Obama's fiscal 2011 budget request. Government Executive
CR Causes Headaches for GOP. House Republican leaders may have to make an unexpected course correction on the continuing resolution to head off defections from unhappy moderates. The discontent surfaced Tuesday as the House began debate on the stopgap spending measure, which is being considered under an open process that could result in hundreds of amendments. Moderates have stopped short of threatening to vote no on final passage but are complaining that leaders have been too arbitrary about the spending cuts contained in the CR. Roll Call
Northern Sea Route Shipping to Multiply Fivefold in 2011. The several successful shipping operations in 2010 are now making shipping companies look at the Northern Sea Route with increasing interest. According to Nord News, at least 150,000 tons of oil are planned to be shipped from Murmansk to China. In addition, there are plans for about 400,000 tons of gas condensate and 600,000 tons of iron ore to be sent along the same route. The first shipment of gas condensate will be made in May this year from the port of Vitino, Nord News reports. Most likely, Sovcomflot's 70,000 ton ice-protected tankers "Kirill Lavrov" and "Vasilii Dinkov" will conduct the operations. Another two such operations are planned later in summer. Arctic Progress
Sweden Makes Arctic Strategy. Carl Bildt, Sweden's foreign minister, presented a Statement on Government Policy that noted that Sweden will chair the Arctic Council beginning in May, and in the spring of 2011, Sweden will present a Arctic strategy. A link to Bildt's statement is here.
Northern Energy Development Leaders Gather in Calgary at North America's Premier Arctic Gas Event. Each year, this event gathers leading industry players, community leaders and government regulators involved in northern projects. The Arctic Gas Symposium provides delegates with cutting edge updates on the latest policies, projects, challenges and opportunities impacting Canadian and U.S. arctic gas development. The Mackenzie Gas Project received its 'green light' from the National Energy Board on December 16, 2010 and a cabinet approval is anticipated any day now. Come March, there will be much to talk about! Join us at the 11th Annual Arctic Gas Symposium on March 2 & 3 and be part of the discussions at this integral time for the future of Arctic gas. PR Log
Alaska's National Parks Show Effects of Climate Change. Thawing permafrost is triggering mudslides onto a key road traveled by busloads of sightseers. Tall bushes newly sprouted on the tundra are blocking panoramic views. And glaciers are receding from convenient viewing areas, while their rapid summer melt poses new flood risks. These are just a few of the ways that a rapidly warming climate is reshaping Denali, Kenai Fjords and other national parks comprising the crown jewels of Alaska's heritage as America's last frontier. The Huffington Post
Oil Companies Defend Using Coast Guard Ship: Oil Industry Money Covers 1/3 of Budget for Arctic Research Consortium. [Canada] BP and Imperial Oil executives appeared before a parliamentary committee Tuesday to defend the companies' use of a coast guard ship for research that could help them drill in the Arctic. The data on ocean currents, ice thickness and other topics collected for industry by the Canadian Coast Guard Ship Amundsen will benefit Canadians, said Michael Peacock, the Imperial Oil Ltd. exploration manager. Because the information is gathered as part of a public-private partnership, it isn't proprietary, he told the committee on fisheries and oceans, CBC News
White House Budget Trims Funds for Alaska Land Transfers, Denali Commission. The Obama administration proposed several Alaska-specific budget cuts today. The most prominent are plans to end Denali Commission funding for health care construction projects not requested by federal agencies, a $10 million cut from 2010, and a plan to reduce the BLM budget for Alaska land transfers from $34 million to $17 million. Regarding the Denali Commission health care construction projects, the White House says, "Meritorious projects should be able to receive funding under a competitive process." The commission was created by Congress to deal with a host of issues in Alaska, health care just one of them. Fairbanks Daily News-Miner
Alaska Native and Native American Programs Receive Increased Funding. As states and agencies wade through the budget President Obama proposed Monday, the White House is promoting its funding plans for Alaska Native and American Indian tribes. The President's adviser on Native American issues, Kim Teehee, said considering the cuts to the budget, Indian Country programs did OK. Teehee said next fiscal year's total proposed funding for Alaska Native and Native American programs is more than $19 billion, an increase of 4 percent over the last cycle's funding. That's nearly a billion dollars more than two years ago. The President's plan calls for increases to the Indian Health Service, the Department of Justice and Department of Transportation tribal programs. There's also a boost to Department of Agriculture's rural development programs. APRN
The "Witness the Arctic" Winter Edition Now Available. Articles include information on the State of the Arctic Conference Resolution, Science Steering Committee meetings on the future of SEARCH, and SEARCH's fall meeting.