Arctic Update Header
May 1, 2012


Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The House and Senate are in recess.


Arctic Forum 2012, April 30-May 1, 2012. The Arctic Research Consortium of the U.S. will host the forum in conjunction with its 24th annual meeting. Both events will be in Washington, D.C. The Arctic Forum is part of the American Geophysical Union's Science Policy Conference, which will be held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. The Conference will focus on the science that helps inform policymakers' decisions. Within the Science Policy Conference, the Arctic Forum will assess gaps and priority needs for arctic scientific information to inform decision makers in policy formation for three key themes:

                - Governance and Security in the Arctic;

                - Transportation and Energy Development; and

                - Changing Arctic Ecosystems.

The Forum will examine the current state of policymaker and public understanding of the issues. An important goal will be to foster an increased capacity for dialogue and action on arctic science policy issues.


AGU- Ulmer The American Geophysical Union hosts a policy conference in Washington, D.C. to bring together scientists, policymakers, and other stakeholders to discuss key Earth and space science topics that address challenges to our environment, economy, national security, and public safety. This meeting will focus on the science that helps inform policymakers' decisions related to natural hazards, natural resources, oceans, and the Arctic. 


Chair of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission, Fran Ulmer, spoke at the conference this morning on Governance, Security, Economic and the Ecosystem of the Changing Arctic.




Greenpeace Occupies Alaska-bound Icebreaker in Finland. 20 Greenpeace activists in Helsinki, Finland, have have occupied one of two Finnish icebreakers contracted to assist Royal Dutch Shell in its exploratory oil and gas project off Alaska's Arctic coast this summer. It is the second time in more than a month that Greenpeace has protested Alaska-bound icebreakers at Helsinki's harbor. The group boarded the Nordica on Tuesday morning. They locked themselves to the ship and hung banners from its side in protest of the drilling project it is contracted to support. Alaska Dispatch 


Risk Assessment in the Arctic Ocean Needs a Closer Look. [Commentary] This winter as Shell Oil readied for the first-ever drilling season in Alaska's Chukchi Sea, we in the north have been holding our breaths. While politicians and pundits have been blaming the price at the pump for all that ails our nation, the Arctic winter has raged on heedless of the plans for the future of the Arctic Ocean. Having spent my adult life studying, exploring, and sharing the natural wonders of Arctic Alaska, I fear that policy makers neither care about the vitality of the region, nor have they honestly and accurately assessed the risks involved with offshore oil production in these storm battered seas. As a professional wilderness guide I make my living managing risk; evaluating perceived and real dangers, and the likelihood of things "going south" hundreds of miles from the nearest road or hospital. Risk management is not unique to the wilderness; and in fact, it is the premise of the federal environmental review process, which has somehow yielded permits for drilling in the most remote and challenging environment on earth. As a risk manager I have grave concerns with Shell Oil's proposed drilling activities in the Arctic Ocean. Alaska Dispatch 


arcticcouncilThe Arctic Herald. The Russian Federation recently released the first publication of "The Arctic Herald." The publication is intended to serve the Arctic Council and address issues of importance to Arctic audiences. Topics covered in this issue of The Arctic Herald include: international cooperation in the Arctic; projects of the Arctic Council; regional background information; and general information on the Arctic Council. The Arctic Herald 



Murkowski Protects Village Safe Water Program in Senate. Senator Lisa Murkowski reached an agreement with Senate Agriculture Committee leadership to continue authorization for Alaska's Village Safe Water (VSW) projects in the 2012 Farm Bill - providing basic drinking water and sanitation needs to rural areas in the state. "Yesterday we passed the 21st Century Postal Service Act, but many regions of Alaska are still trying to reach 20th Century standards in 2012 when it comes to basic water needs," said Murkowski. "As we move forward in our budgeting priorities, we must continue to place a high priority on the health and bare necessities of our citizens." Senator Lisa Murkowski 


begichBegich, Cantwell Statement on Sightings of Debris Off Alaska Coast. U.S. Senators Mark Begich (D-AK) and Maria Cantwell (D-WA) issued the following statements following reports today from Alaska pilots that large amounts of debris are accumulating along the central Gulf of Alaska coast from Kayak Island to Montague Island. Items sighted include large floats, hard plastic and Styrofoam, as well as buoys and insulation. According to the pilots and Alaska fishermen, some of the items have Japanese writing on them. "This discovery of large amounts of potential tsunami debris off Alaska's coast is a wake-up call that the U.S. government needs an action plan now," Cantwell said. "We know the tsunami debris is on its way to our coast. We cannot be caught by surprise - we need clear answers and the best science available to protect Washington state's billion-dollar coastal economy. I will continue working to ensure we have an aggressive plan in place to protect Washington coastal communities and jobs." Senator Mark Begich 


russian flagAlaska Senators Press International Fishing Issues With Russia. Alaska Senators Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski are urging President Barack Obama to raise two important international fisheries issues when he meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-8 Summit next month: securing an international fisheries agreement for the high seas of the Central Arctic Ocean, and a multilateral agreement with Russia to cooperate on illegal fishing on the high seas. "The waters north of the U.S. and Russian Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) are experiencing significant loss of multi-year sea ice," Begich and Murkowski said in their letter to Obama this week. "Much of this area is of fishable depth and the waters are now open for several months each year. Exploratory research is already being conducted by non-coastal states and exploratory fishing may not be far behind. We believe the time to secure such an international agreement is before non-coastal states begin exploratory fishing in the region." Senator Mark Begich 


Leadership of Senate Oceans Subcommittee and Oceans Caucus. Senators Mark Begich of Alaska and Olympia Snowe of Maine, who lead the Senate Subcommittee on Oceans, Atmosphere, Fisheries and Coast Guard, were joined by the leaders of the Senate Oceans Caucus, Senators Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, as well as Senate President Pro Tempore Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii, in introducing a bill to improve the nation's ocean survey workforce. The bill reauthorizes the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Commissioned Officer Corps, (the NOAA Corps) and provides mechanisms to help the Corps improve both its diversity and retention of senior female officers. The NOAA Corps is the smallest of the seven uniformed service of the United States, with 318 active commissioned officers. Senator Mark Begich 


Coast Guard SealCoast Guard Modernization. The Coast Guard is simultaneously and at all times an Armed Force and Federal agency with safety, security, and stewardship missions. We save lives. We protect the environment. We defend the homeland. We are unique in the Nation and the world. However, as our Nation faces the long-term struggle against radical extremism in a period of persistent conflict, the Coast Guard must be prepared to conduct operations across a broad spectrum of threats and hazards. From the oil platforms of the Northern Arabian Gulf, to the interior rivers, to an increasingly open and accessible Arctic, we must ensure the safety, security, and stewardship of our maritime domain, while simultaneously addressing unprecedented growth in maritime trade and tourism. Therefore, we must position America's Coast Guard to answer the call, to remain always ready, and to execute the mission. The Coast Guard has never been relied upon by the Nation more than we are today. The Service is strong, however we face new challenges that require us to be organized more efficiently, and manage our business practices more effectively. We must honor our past, but not operate in it. Our future lies in a flexible, agile, and responsive force, backed by a transformed command and control structure and a mature mission support organization. US Coast Guard

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No Arctic legislation was formally considered yesterday.

Future Events               


Arctic Ambitions: Commercial Development of the Arctic, May 2, 2012. World Trade Center Alaska and the Institute of the North will hold a conference focusing on connections between international trade, Arctic policy issues, and resource development.   

[Postponed]American Polar Society 75th Anniversary Meeting and Symposium, "The Polar Regions in the 21st Century: Globalization, Climate Change and Geopolitics", to occur in 2013, The Explorers Club, NYC. For 75 years, the American Polar Society has both documented and communicated polar activities to the interested world. This meeting will bring together the current leaders in science, government, commerce, and diplomacy for a state-of-the-art forecast of the next seventy-five years in a world influenced more than ever before by the destiny of the Arctic and Antarctic. Click here.  


The Tenth International Conference on Permafrost, June 2012. The conference will be held in Tyumen, Russia, and is organized and hosted by Russia. The last conference was held in Fairbanks, Alaska, in 2008. Click here.  


15th International Congress on Circumpolar Health, August 5-10, 2012. This event is sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Society for Circumpolar Health, and the International Union for Circumpolar Health.  The forum will consider community participatory research and healthmeetinglogoindigenous research; women's health, family health, and well-being; food security and nutrition; social determinants of health; environmental and occupational health; infectious and chronic diseases; climate change health impacts; health service delivery and infrastructure; and behavioral health. Click here


The Arctic Imperative Summit, August 24-28, 2012. The summit will be hosted by Alaska Dispatch and will bring together leading voices in this conversation, including residents from the small villages that comprise Alaska's coastal communities, state, national and international leaders, the heads of shipping and industry, as well as international policymakers and the news media. The goal of the summit is to sharpen the focus on the policy and investment needs of Alaska's Arctic through a series of high level meetings, presentations, investor roundtables and original research. Click here


Arctic/Inuit/Connections: Learning from the Top of the World , October 24-28, 2012.  The 18th Inuit Studies Conference, hosted by the Smithsonian Institution, will be held in Washington, DC. The conference will consider heritage inuitconferencelogomuseums and the North; globalization: an Arctic story; power, governance and politics in the North; the '"new" Arctic: social, cultural and climate change; and Inuit education, health, language, and literature. For more information, click here. 



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