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September 13, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The House is expected to pass a six-month continuing resolution to fund government operations beyond September 30th. The House is also expected to consider a legislation to require the president to offer an alternative to sequestration. This provision is not expected to be considered in the Senate. Today, the Senate will continue to consider a veterans' jobs bill.  



lame duckHouse Conservatives Do Not Want Decisions Made in Lame-Duck. The list of major items that Congress must confront in a lame-duck session is getting lengthy, but a few House conservatives say lawmakers should not return to Washington at all after the November elections. With the House and Senate likely to close up the pre-election shop next week, action on expiring tax rates and subsidies, looming spending cuts, Medicare reimbursement rates and a cash-strapped Postal Service must wait until an abbreviated post-election session in November and December. The Hill  


Senate's Gang of Eight Eyes a More Ambitious Deficit Reduction Plan. The Senate's Gang of Eight is aiming higher, with some members of the bipartisan group now discussing a plan that would reduce deficit spending by $1 trillion more than their initial goal. With the hope of offering a comprehensive proposal for consideration during a post-election session, the senators are trying to package revenue increases with structural changes in entitlements, They are also looking at ways to delay the automatic spending cuts due to start in 2013. One idea is to allow scaled back cuts to occur, with an agreement that larger savings will be worked out next year. Congressional Quarterly


russian flagRussia Plans to Construct Largest Nuclear-Powered Icebreaker Ever. Earth already has plenty of nuclear-powered things; however Russia is eager to add to the list. Alaska's eastern (and northern) neighbor plans to build the largest nuclear-powered icebreaker in the world. According to BBC news, the new vessel is "meant to be more efficient at breaking ice" and able to navigate the profoundly vast waters of the Northern Sea Route, as well as "narrower Siberian river" channels. Technically, Russia has already built the largest nuclear-powered icebreaker in the world several times over because it's the only country in the world with a nuclear-powered icebreaker fleet. But the country believes that an even larger, more powerful craft may attract the attention of foreign commercial shippers. Mathew Willis of the defense think tank Rusi told the BBC that the Northern Sea Route "is the best channel in the Arctic." Wilis added that any northern shipping "is probably going to go into the Russian Arctic, so the Russians are trying to make it (the Northern Sea Route) more attractive to ships" by offering a larger more efficient icebreaker. Alaska Dispatch  


ringsealEnvironmental Group Sues for Federal Protection of Ice Seals. Environmentalists sued the Obama administration on Wednesday seeking federal safeguards for seals that rely on vanishing Arctic sea ice and accusing the government of dragging its feet in listing the marine mammals under the Endangered Species Act. The Center for Biological Diversity filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Anchorage, saying the National Marine Fisheries Service has illegally delayed listings for the ringed seal and the bearded seal. The Chicago Tribune  


arcticcouncilArctic Council Implement SAR Live Exercise. A four-day live exercise, in which Iceland will take part, is currently underway on and around the coast of East Greenland as part of the Arctic Council agreement on Aeronautical and Maritime Search and Rescue (SAR) in the Arctic. According to the Icelandic Ministry for Foreign Affairs, the Icelandic Coast Guard is responsible for Iceland's participation in the exercise but the Civil Protection, ICE-SAR, the Icelandic Red Cross and Icesavia are also taking part. Iceland Review


The EU and the Arctic: A never ending story. The European Commission's new outline for an EU Arctic policy, released at the end of June, goes a long way in showing how the EU wishes to be perceived as a serious and balanced Arctic actor. Other parts of the EU-system, however, have taken a different approach throughout the summer months. Using the kind of simplified Arctic-rhetoric that has caused many problems for the EU in the past, some Members of the European Parliament have yet again called for an Arctic drilling moratorium and questioned the region's governance structures. The ongoing oil and gas debate in the European Parliament highlights how the EU is not, at least yet, a coherent actor on this issue, and is still in the early stages of developing its own comprehensive Arctic Policy. In a summer when Shell started drilling in the Chukchi Sea, Greenpeace activists hijacked a rig in Russia, and a shifting oil rig in the Barents Sea caused alarm in Norway, Arctic oil and gas has most definitely been on the agenda, both in and outside of the Arctic. Certain members of the European Parliament have consequently used the Commission's proposal on new safety rules for offshore oil and gas as an opportunity to address issues concerning such activities. As before, however, some of the proposals in the Parliament highlight a greater desire to be seen doing something about the Arctic rather than actually understanding the matter at hand. The Arctic Institute 


Warming Arctic Climate May Mean Trees for Nunavut in 100 Years: Fossil Forest holds clue to future climate. A UniversitÚ de Montreal graduate student studying a fossilized forest on Nunavut's Bylot Island says the climate conditions that existed there 2.5 million years ago are similar to what scientists predict will exist again in a hundred years. In other words, what goes around, comes around: it's possible that small trees, similar to the willow, pine and spruce that now grow at the treeline near James Bay in Quebec, might one day grow again in the High Arctic. Nunatsiaq Online


Tiny Arctic Crustaceans May be Riding The Wave of Climate Change. With sea ice levels at record lows and shorelines receding, scientists are concerned about the adaptability of animals to global climate change. But new research suggests one tiny crustacean is riding the waves of climate change. Live Science reports that tiny, flea-like Apherusa glacialis that dwells on the underside of sea ice may already be adapting to iceless summer days. When Norwegian marine biologist J°rgen Berge of the University Centre in Svalbard and his research team dragged up the tiny creatures from deep in the Arctic Ocean in January, they found about half of the creatures to be egg-bearing females. Finding so many females at such deep depths was odd; they began to wonder why. Alaska Dispatch 


Climate Changes Makes the Arctic a Strange Kettle of Fish. Decisions on managing fish stocks in the Arctic should be based on fact and not idealism, maintains University of Hull fisheries expert, Dr Magnus Johnson. Speaking at the "The Future of the High North and the Challenges for Maritime Governance" conference, being held this week (September 13-14) at the University of Hull, Dr Johnson, of the University of Hull's Centre for Environmental and Marine Sciences, will claim that over-regulation risks endangering the livelihood of indigenous people in the region. FISHUpdate

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No formal action was taken on Arctic legislation.

Future Events                      


Debate on Arctic Challenges Set for Brussels, October 4-5, 2012.The challenges facing the Arctic during a time of change and global warming uncertainty will be the subject of frank and lively debate between policymakers, Ambassadors from European Union and Arctic nations, polar scientists, and representatives industry and Arctic indigenous peoples groups, at the 2012 Arctic Futures Symposium, taking place in Brussels on October 4th and 5th. High-level speakers include Prince Albert II of Monaco, Maria Damanaki, European Commissioner for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Belgian Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and European Affairs Didier Reynders, and Charles Emmerson, Chatham House Senior Research Fellow on Energy, Environment and Resources, and author of The Future History of the Arctic.  Guest speakers will also include Sweden's Arctic Ambassador Gustav Lind, Greenland's Deputy Foreign Minister Inuuteq Holm Olsen, Robert Blaauw, Senior Advisor to Shell's Arctic programme, Bernard Funston, Chair of the Canadian Polar Commission, British Antarctic Survey glaciologist Prof. David Vaughan and Lars-Anders Baer, chair of the Working Group of Indigenous Peoples in the Barents Euro-Arctic Region.


inuitconferencelogoArctic/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 museums 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.  


U.S.-Canada Northern Oil and Gas Research Forum (2012) Northern Oil and Gas Research Forum 2012, November 13-15, 2012. The Northern Oil and Gas Research Forum is a biannual event with representation from government, industry, academia, Aboriginal groups, and northerners from both Canada and the United States. The forum provides an opportunity for United States and Canadian decision makers, regulators, Aboriginals, industry members, non-governmental organizations and scientists to discuss current scientific research and future directions for northern oil and gas activities. The focus is on technical, scientific, and engineering research that can be applied to support management and regulatory processes related to oil and gas exploration and development in the North. The North Slope Science Initiative and the U.S. Department of the Interior is hosting, in partnership with our counterparts in Canada and the United States, the third United States - Canada Northern Oil and Gas Research Forum from November 13 to 15, 2012, at the Hilton Hotel, Anchorage, Alaska. The Forum will showcase the value of Northern scientific research in support of sound decision-making for oil and gas management. 


Wakefield28th Wakefield Symposium: Responses of Arctic Marine Ecosystems to Climate Change, March 26-29, 2013. This symposium seeks to advance our understanding of responses of arctic marine ecosystems to climate change at all trophic levels, by documenting and forecasting changes in environmental processes

and species responses to those changes. Presentations will focus on collaborative approaches to understanding and managing living marine resources in a changing Arctic, and to managing human responses to changing arctic marine ecosystems. Hosted by Alaska Sea Grant and sponsors.

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