US Arctic Research Commission
May 20, 2011

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The Senate will consider a judicial nomination.  The Senate Armed Services Committee continues to consider the defense authorization bill. The House is in recess.

Media Reviewtodaysevents  


Coburn Writing Own Budget. After taking a "sabbatical" from the "gang of six" talks on deficit reduction, Sen. Tom Coburn is writing his own budget blueprint that will aggressively tackle entitlements. "I'm working hard on my plan," the Oklahoma Republican said Thursday, adding that he and his staff have been working on it for about six days - before he walked out on the bipartisan group of Senators. Congressional Quarterly


Obama Pushes AK Oil, But Measures May Take Years. President Barack Obama's call last week for additional petroleum development in Alaska was welcomed in the state, but U.S. consumers may not see effects at the gas pumps or anywhere else for the duration of his administration, even if he wins a second term. Obama said the federal government will extend leases off Alaska's coast to give companies time to meet higher safety standards. He pledged to streamline permitting. Anchorage Daily News  

Cheryl Rosa & Fran Ulmer


Alaska Mercury Levels Lower Than Other Parts of Arctic. The Arctic Council is bringing attention to the issue of mercury contamination in subsistence foods. A new assessment from the Council's monitoring program finds high levels of the metal in marine mammals. But the report shows mercury levels in Alaska tend to be much lower than other parts of the Arctic. Alaska Public Radio Network interviews USARC's Alaska Director, Dr. Cheryl Rosa, ANTHC's Dr. Jim Berner, former USARC Commissioner Ms. Vera Metcalf, among others. Audio File 


In Greenland, an Arctic Growth Story: The Danish possession has high hopes for this summer's oil drilling. Greenland's capital of Nuuk (pop. 15,000) was turned upside down by the arrival on May 11 of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She was there for a meeting of the Arctic Council, an eight-nation group that's trying to figure out how to manage the region's growing industrial activity while protecting the ecosystem and native rights. Greenland's role as host of the meeting highlights its growing importance in the drive to exploit the riches of the Far North. Cairn Energy, a Scottish explorer of oil, just received approval from Greenland authorities to drill four exploratory wells in the chilly waters west of the island. Last year, Cairn drilled two wells that uncovered evidence of oil and gas in the same area the company plans to probe more extensively starting in early June. Oil majors Royal Dutch Shell and ExxonMobil have expressed interest in Greenland as well. Business Week 


Small Schools Warily Watch Enrollment Numbers. As summer vacation begins around the state, a handful of rural Interior villages are nervously wondering whether enough students will return in the fall to allow their schools to remain open. It's an annual ritual in many small communities in Alaska, where a minimum of 10 students are needed to qualify a school for full state funding. In the past decade, 20 schools across the state have closed because of low enrollment, including Far North School in Central last year. Fairbanks Daily News-Miner


Iceland and US Cooperate on Arctic Research. The governments of the USA and IcelandIceland are now working on a declaration of intent on cooperation on research in the Arctic regions following a meeting between Icelandic Foreign Minister