US Arctic Research Commission
January 5, 2011

Today's Eventstodaysevents


The 112th Congress begins today.  New members will be sworn in today.

Media Reviewtodaysevents


Day One: Let the Battles Begin. John Boehner is about to face the reality of the power he now holds. The Ohio Republican, who will be elevated from Minority Leader to Speaker today, is up against an enormous challenge: He must appease a flock of conservative and ambitious GOP freshmen while putting in place a strategy for his party to expand its Congressional majority and win the White House in 2012. Roll Call 


A Play-by-Play of the 112th's First Day. The selection of a new Speaker and the swearing-in of freshman lawmakers are two of the most time-honored ceremonies on Capitol Hill, drawing scores of friends and family members to Washington to watch history unfold.  By Wednesday's end there will be 110 new members of Congress, the House will have a Republican Speaker and a new set of rules and the 112th Congress will be under way. Events will begin with outgoing House Clerk Lorraine Miller calling the chamber to order, followed by an opening prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance. Miller will then deliver a quorum count followed by a manual roll call for members' nominations for Speaker. Having received his party's overwhelming support, Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) is expected to become the 53rd Speaker of the House. Rep. John Dingell (D-Mich.), the chamber's longest-serving member (a distinction known as "the Dean of the House"), will administer the oath of office to Boehner.  The Hill 


House Rules Package Finalized Over Democrats' Protests. House Democrats continued their assault on a GOP package of rules changes Tuesday in what has become the first major floor fight of the 112th Congress. Incoming Budget Committee ranking member Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) circulated a memo to colleagues Tuesday night that said the Republicans' package "takes a dramatic and fiscally irresponsible approach to implementing their priorities." Roll Call


Oil Group Predicts Increased Pressure for Offshore Drilling. Less than a year after the biggest oil spill in U.S. history, the head of the oil and gas industry's main trade group predicted Tuesday that rising gasoline prices in the year ahead could ratchet up pressure on Congress to enact legislation opening more coastal waters to drilling. Despite last summer's media blitz focused on the oil spill's environmental impacts, American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard said most consumers "think it was an isolated incident." Congressional Quarterly 


Panel Deals Shell Setback in the Arctic. Royal Dutch Shell was dealt a new setback in its plans to drill offshore in the arctic, after environmentalists successfully challenged a decision to grant the company air-quality permits. Shell has invested $3.5 billion in an exploration program in Alaska's Beaufort and Chukchi seas, but has yet to drill. The company's plans have been dogged by legal challenges and regulatory obstacles. Shell had finally overcome all hurdles last spring, until BP PLC's Gulf of Mexico oil well exploded, triggering the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history. The Obama administration responded by suspending most new offshore drilling, including in the arctic, throwing Shell's exploration program into disarray. The Wall Street Journal 


Arctic Treaty Will Push Canada to Upgrade Rescue Capabilities, Experts Say. The federal government is poised to sign an international treaty that will make Canada legally responsible for search and rescue in its part of the Arctic. Northern experts say the deal, expected to be signed in May, could pressure Canada into upgrading its capabilities in the region. And, they add, it shows new resolve by the eight nations in the Arctic Council to show the rest of the world that they intend to set the rules for the uppermost reaches of the planet. "By ratcheting up the capabilities of the Arctic Council, countries like the United States, Russia and Canada are essentially saying, 'No, we have matters under control. We are making laws for this area. You can relax,' " said Michael Byers, an international law professor at the University of British Columbia who has written extensively on the Arctic. Toronto Star


Cairn Rents Rigs for Arctic Oil Search. Cairn Energy's highly prospective Arctic exploration program remains on track after the FTSE 100 oil and gas independent said it had rented two drilling rigs for this year and secured a $900m (