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September 17, 2012

Today's Eventstodaysevents 


The Senate will hold a pro forma session today. The House is in recess.



Strengthening Safety Cultures in Oil and Gas Operations in the Arctic. Fran Ulmer, Chair of the US Arctic Research Commission, addressed the "PAME Health Safety and Environmental (HSE) Management Systems for Arctic Offshore Oil and Gas Operations" workshop held on Sunday, Sept.16th, in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The goal of the workshop was to inform the Protection of the Arctic Marine Environment (PAME) HSE project team about strengthening safety cultures in oil and gas operations in the Arctic. As a presidentially-appointed member of the National BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Commission, Ulmer provided a summary of the recommendations from the Commission's report and provided suggestions regarding the opportunities for improvements in risk management. This workshop was convened in support of the PAME 2011-2013 work plan and is being held back-to-back with the Arctic Ocean Review (AOR) Workshop (Sept. 17-18) and the PAME II-2012 Working Group meeting (Sept. 18-20). 
BoehnerGOP Pushes Back on Sequester. Republicans pushed back  

Friday after the White House blamed the GOP for blocking "balanced" alternatives that would raise taxes on the wealthy as a way to avoid automatic budget cuts set to take effect Jan. 2. The administration today released a report - which was required by law and pushed by Republicans - that said the sequester would have "devastating impacts" on military and non-military programs. "This report confirms that the president's 'sequester' is a serious threat to our national security and must be replaced," Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a statement. Roll Call  


obamaWhite House Details 'Deeply Destructive' Cuts Under Sequester. A White House report on the impact of automatic spending cuts set to begin in January concludes that the sequester would be "deeply destructive" to national security, domestic investments and core government functions. While the long-awaited report provides detailed information, it does not analyze how the sequester would affect federal programs, projects and activities as required by a law enacted last month (PL 112-155). The report demanded by Congress amid warnings about the impact of the looming cuts, particularly on defense, outlines some $109 billion in reductions and urges lawmakers to find a way to stave off the automatic reductions triggered by last year's debt limit agreement. Congressional Quaterly


shellShell to Forgo Arctic Exploratory Drilling Until 2013. Shell will not conduct exploratory drilling in the Arctic this summer, the company said late on Sunday, after a containment dome was damaged during a final test of the system. "In order to lay a strong foundation for operations in 2013, we will forgo drilling into hydrocarbon zones this year," Shell spokeswoman Kelly op de Weegh said in an email. "Instead, we will begin as many wells, known as 'top holes,' as time remaining in this season allows." While the company has received permits to begin preliminary work in the Arctic, it has been struggling to get its oil spill response barge, called Arctic Challenger, certified in order to get final drilling permits for the controversial project. The company successfully completed a series of tests for the containment system in the last several days, but during a final test, the containment dome abroad the Arctic Challenger was damaged, op de Weegh said. Government Executive


icebreakersCanadian Port Sess Increased Shipping Traffic as Arctic Melts. On an otherwise ordinary Monday in early August, a ship built in Asia, traveling from Europe and bound for Africa sidled up to the berths of the port in the northern town of Churchill, in the Canadian province of Manitoba, ready to be loaded with Canadian grain. After filling the hull with prairie wheat, the MV Puffin was off, bound for the Nigerian port of Lagos with 42,779 cubic metres of cargo. The Puffin was the port's first customer this shipping season. But if shifting global trade winds are any indication, a lot more vessels will follow in its wake. When Sir John Franklin set out to find the elusive Northwest Passage in 1845, the voyage that is now the focus of a Parks Canada search was a dream that cost him and his crew their lives. Now, pursuit of that passage to cross between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans is seeing renewed interest as Arctic ice recedes to record lows. Alaska Dispatch 


Canada's Arctic Territory Heats Up: Kent: As the world runs out of resources and the ice retreats, Canada's sprawling Arctic territory is attracting interest from a host of different countries. Two mighty ocean-going vessels: one Chinese and the other registered in the Netherlands. Both symbolic players in the world's coming struggle for food, water, right of shipping transit and access to deep ocean resources. Each combines to form a single message for Canada as it faces renewed challenges to its Arctic sovereignty. First the Dutch ship. As you read this, the giant fishing trawler FV Margiris is ready to drop its nets in the wild vastness of the Southern Ocean. The Toronto Sun 


Japan Gifts US $6 Million Toward Debris Cleanup. At a recent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in eastern Russia, Japan announced it would be sending $6 million to North America to assist the U.S. and Canada address tsunami debris concerns on the Pacific Coast. This is in response to a growing concern about marine debris from Japan's devastating March 2011 tsunami, which is beginning to show up on coastlines around the Pacific - including Alaska. Sen. Mark Begich called the gift a welcome contribution and a signal that a continued financial and collaborative effort by U.S. officials is needed in order to deal with the mounting debris issue. The Arctic Sounder 


budget[Canadian] Scientists Protest Federal Cutbacks to Environmental Monitoring. A leading Canadian climate scientist today slammed the search for the long-lost 1845 Franklin Expedition as a veiled front for future oil and gas extraction in the high Arctic. Andrew Weaver, a professor in the University of Victoria school of earth and ocean sciences, called the search for the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror a "joke" during an off-the-cuff speech during a noontime rally in downtown Victoria. "The Franklin Expedition is using tax dollars to seismically survey the ocean bottom for future oil and gas exploration. That has nothing to do with science," Weaver said. "It's all about oil and gas exploration. They are mapping out the floor." Peninsula News Review

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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