US Arctic Research Commission
February 4, 2011

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The Senate is in session to consider morning business.  The House is not in session.


Public comment sought. Strategic action plans are being developed for the nine priority objectives in President Obama's national ocean policy, which include, "Changing Conditions in the Arctic: Address environmental stewardship needs in the Arctic Ocean and adjacent coastal areas in the face of climate-induced and other environmental changes." The National Ocean Council, which is implementing the policy, is seeking public input here through April 29, 2011. Draft plans will be released in the summer of 2011, and will also be available for public comment

Media Reviewtodaysevents  


Shell Cancels 2011 Arctic Drilling Plans. Royal Dutch Shell PLC this morning announced it is postponing plans to drill for oil this summer in seas off Alaska, citing shellcontinued uncertainty over whether it would receive federal permits. Shell CEO Peter Voser in an earnings call with reporters said the company would need to spend as much as $150 million without knowing whether it would receive needed permits from U.S. EPA and the Interior Department. "Despite our investment in acreage and technology and our work with the stakeholders, we haven't been able to drill a single exploration well," Voser said. "Critical permits continue to be delayed, and the timeline for getting these permits is still uncertain." New York Times


Government Shutdown on the Lips of Senate Democrats, Not Republicans. Senate Democrats are talking about a possible government shutdown more than Republicans, a sign that Democrats are confident they have the political edge on the issue. Senate Democrats have met with senior White House officials in preparation for an intense clash with Republicans over government spending levels and a proposal to increase the national debt ceiling. The Hill


Murkowski Names Top Republican on Appropriations Interior and Environment Panel. Alaska Republican Lisa Murkowski will serve as the top MurkowskiRepublican on the Senate Appropriations Interior and Environment Subcommittee in the 112th Congress, a promotion that will extend her influence over environmental and energy policy. Already the top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Murkowski's new appropriations slot will give her major sway in writing the budgets for EPA and the Interior Department - two agencies she has harshly criticized. Congressional Quarterly


Arctic Fisheries Drastically Under-Reported: Report. University of British Columbia researchers say the world's Arctic waters are no longer a pristine frontier crabwhen it comes to fisheries. Researchers with UBC's Fisheries Centre and Department of Earth and Ocean Sciences have crunched the numbers and revealed catches from Arctic waters are 75-times higher than reported to the United Nations. Report author Daniel Pauly says data ranging from limited government reports to anthropological records show small scale, often subsistence fisheries in Russian, U.S. and Canadian Arctic waters totalled 950,000 tonnes between 1950 and 2006. CTV News


Warm Arctic Weather Threatens Alaska's Caribou, Dall Sheep. Once more ice coats the brush and snow of Northwest Alaska, and Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist Jim Dau wonders how the caribou will fare this time. Twice since 2005, the animals of the Western Arctic caribou herd have been hit hard by ice storms that threatened to lock their forage away beneath a layer of white pavement. After the first of those storms, large numbers of caribou suffered from starvation. Dau described them as dying "in droves." Alaska Dispatch


Greenland, Nunavut Want Arctic Protection. Some of Greenland's politicians say they want to team up with Nunavut to demand better protection for Arctic waters, as areas like the Northwest Passage open up to more marine traffic. Several members of Greenland's home-rule government's foreign affairs and security policy committee are meeting with Nunavut Premier Eva Aariak and other leaders in Iqaluit this week to talk about issues concerning the regions. CBC News

Legislative Actionfutureevents

No Arctic-related legislation was formally considered yesterday.

Future Eventsfutureevents

President's Budget, February 7. By statute, the president is required to submit his annual budget proposal to Congress by the first Monday in February.
Arctic Technology Conference, February 7-9, 2011. The Arctic is one of the few places on the globe which still holds enormous new petroleum reserve potential. A recently completed USGS survey estimated that 20% of the world's remaining reserves were trapped beneath the Arctic Circle. OTC's inaugural Arctic Technology Conference (ATC), 7-9 February 2011 in Houston, Texas, will be a truly global event focused on the cutting-edge technologies and innovative practices needed for exploration and production in the Arctic.

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.


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