Tundra Fires Could Accelerate Climate Warming. After a 10,000-year absence, wildfires have returned to the Arctic tundra, and a University of Florida study shows that their impact could extend far beyond the areas blackened by flames.
Appropriators Face Tight Timeline in September. Congress will be hard pressed to clear any of the 12 annual spending bills when it returns from August recess in early September. With the new fiscal year set to begin Oct. 1, lawmakers will have to quickly work on preparing a stopgap funding measure to avoid a government shutdown, leaving them little time work on the annual measures. Moreover, both chambers are only in session for just over two weeks in September with both not due back until Sept. 6 and scheduled to take off the week of Sept. 23, with Rosh Hashanah falling on Sept. 29. Congressional Quarterly
Admiral Papp: USCG Not Ready for Arctic Ops. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp testified before the U.S. Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard Subcommittee on defending U.S. economic interests in the changing Arctic. During the hearing, Adm. Papp discussed America's position as an Arctic nation, the Law of the Sea Convention, and need to complete construction of at least eight national security cutters. He also provided examples of challenges facing Coast Guard operations in the Arctic: "Operations in the Arctic's extreme cold, darkness and ice-infested waters require specialized equipment, infrastructure and training. Our current Arctic capabilities are very limited. We have only one operational ice breaker. We do not have any coastal or shoreside infrastructure. Nor do we have a seasonal base to hanger our aircraft or sustain our crews." Marine Link
Passage of Arctic Treaty Urged. Melting Arctic sea ice presents a wealth of new economic opportunities for the United States, but the nation can't take advantage of them until it joins an international treaty that has languished in the Senate, a panel of military and energy experts told a Senate subcommittee Wednesday. At issue is the United Nations Law of the Sea Treaty, a 1982 pact that every other Arctic nation except the United States has ratified. The treaty has support from business leaders and lawmakers in both parties, and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved it overwhelmingly in 2007. But a group of Senate Republicans, arguing that the treaty could compromise national security and sovereignty, has blocked its ratification. Kansas City Star
Can Anyone Clean Up an Arctic Oil Spill? Environmental groups earlier this week challenged oil companies to prove they can clean up an oil spill in the Arctic. The challenge is all part of a ramped-up public relations and political effort by a coalition of more than a dozen national conservation organizations to pressure the Obama administration into rejecting industry permit applications for work in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas next summer. So it's unlikely Shell Oil and the other companies will pick up that particular gantlet -- and how would they, really. Short of dumping some oil out there and mopping it up or burning it off how does one prove they can clean up a spill? Alaska Dispatch
Experts Say U.S. Needs to Improve Arctic Infrastructure. The United States needs to improve both its infrastructure in the Arctic and the ways its governs the region to take full advantage of the Arctic's resources, numerous experts today told the Senate Commerce Committee's Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard. The meeting was chaired by Sen. Mark Begich, said a press release from his office. Here's more from the release: In a hearing Begich convened to focus on the need for comprehensive Arctic policy, government and private sector officials said there is enormous opportunity in the Arctic. But taking advantage of resource development and international shipping opportunities there requires the U.S. to beef up its ice-breaking fleet, build new Arctic ports and ratify the Law of Sea Treaty to give America a seat at the international regulatory table. The Arctic Sounder
Arctic Police Chiefs to Meet in Iqaluit. Iqaluit will host a first-ever meeting this fall of police chiefs from across the Arctic, including chiefs from Greenland and Alaska as well as Canada's territories. The meeting, taking place Sept. 20 and 21, will give northern police chiefs an opportunity to learn from each other and discuss issues of common interest, said Nunavut RCMP Chief Supt. Steve McVarnock. CBC News
Inside the Ring, Sea Law Treaty Push. The Obama administration and Sen. John F. Kerry are pushing for Senate ratification of the controversial Law of the Sea Treaty amid heightened tensions over Chinese maritime aggressiveness stemming from the 1982 pact. Administration officials recently held interagency meetings on ratification plans, and teams of officials have briefed some senators on the drive to approve the treaty. The White House is using the Navy's support for the treaty's navigation provisions to gain the backing of skeptical senators. Washington Times