Arctic Update Header
 January 30, 2013

Today's Eventstodaysevents 



The Senate will consider debt limit legislation. The House is not in session.



KerrySenate Confirms Kerry as Secretary of State. The Senate on Tuesday confirmed Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., as the next secretary of State in a 94-to-3 vote. Kerry will succeed current Secretary Hillary Clinton, who is stepping down Feb. 1. Kerry's fellow senators lauded his record after quickly confirming him. Federal Times


Kerry's Departure Opens Seats on Key Panel. The Senate confirmation Tuesday of Sen. John Kerry of Massachusetts to succeed Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton sets off a tight competition for his seat on Finance and could trigger changes on other panels, including the Joint Economic Committee. Mark Begich of Alaska, chairman of the Democratic Steering and Outreach Committee, said Kerry's slots on committees would be filled soon after Kerry's swearing in as Clinton's successor. Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada scheduled time to debate the Kerry nomination and a floor vote on his nomination Tuesday afternoon. Congressional Quarterly


A Chance for Canada to Steer the Arctic's Future. The Arctic is getting hotter - so hot that China is claiming to be a "near-Arctic" country and wants to join the Arctic Council as a permanent observer. Singapore, India and South Korea - as well as Greenpeace and the Association of Oil and Gas Producers - have also applied for observer status. Clearly, the melting of the sea ice and the opening up of new shipping routes linking the Pacific to the Atlantic, as well as the North's tremendous resource potential, are attracting a frenzy of attention. Canada, which this year becomes chair of the Arctic Council, has a unique opportunity to strengthen the leadership of the world's premier forum for intergovernmental co-operation in the North, just as global interest in the region intensifies. The Globe and Mail


canadian flagClock is Ticking: Canada Must Show Arctic Leadership. [Commentary] In 2013, the Canadian government's attention will once again be focused on the Arctic. One immediate priority is the upcoming decision by members of Stephen Harper's cabinet on how to conduct an environmental review for a proposal to develop the Izok Corridor in Nunavut. The plan - put forward by a company headquartered in Australia, but which is a subsidiary of Chinese state-owned resource giant China Minmetals - could bring billions of dollars into the region through its production of an estimated 180,000 tonnes of zinc and 50,000 tonnes of copper a year. The Globe and Mail


Scientist Dr. Tim Boyd "Killed by Lightning" in Argyll. An American-born scientist has died after apparently being struck by lightning in Argyll. The body of Dr Tim Boyd was found by a dog walker on a bridge near his home at Port Appin on Sunday afternoon. A large storm in the area at the time knocked down power and phone lines and it is believed the academic was struck by lightning. BBC News


Greenland Research Station to Monitor Climate Change. Aarhus University has begun the construction of a modern research station in northern Greenland that will monitor how climate change is affecting the region. The station, which will be a vast upgrade from the little shack that currently houses climate research in the area, will study how the shifting climate alters the air, ocean, geology as well as the plants and animals in the region. The Copenhagen Post


defense spendingNATO Poised to Militarize Arctic. NATO is preparing to militarize the Arctic region, Agneta Nordberg, member of the Global Network Against Weapons and Nuclear Power in Space, told the Voice of Russia on Wednesday. She pointed to an array of large-scale military exercises, conducted by NATO countries, including the United States, on the territories of Sweden, Norway and Finland. Also, Nordberg expressed concern over the planned deployment of elements of the US missile shield near Russian borders. Voice of Russia 


Russia's Revival of Arctic Northern Sea Route At Least 10 Years Away. Tanker transport of Russian Arctic gas through the Bering Strait to Asian buyers is at least 10 years away because of aging infrastructure, vessel shortages and growing disputes over waterway rights. Thawing sea ice caused by global warming has attracted energy companies to drill in the Arctic Ocean, an area mostly north of Russia containing 25 per cent of the world's untapped hydrocarbons, according to estimates. Russia plans to unlock those resources by reviving a Soviet-era trade link known as the Northern Sea Route (NSR)Northern Sea Route (NSR), which avoids long trips via the Atlantic and the Suez Canal and makes its exports more competitive. The Toronto Star


Militarization of the Arctic: "We Have to Rethink How War is Fought"-Norberg. As the Arctic ice continues to melt and resources slowly begin to be available the West has decided to begin the militarization of the Arctic zone in a bid to gain control over the precious resources. In an interview with the Voice of Russia Agenta Norberg, Vice Chair of the Swedish Peace Council gives her views on the issue and also comments on the militarization of Sweden, Norway and the North and the NATO expansion into "neutral" areas. Voice of Russia


arcticcouncilCanada to Help India Get on Arctic Council. Even as it seeks full observer status to the Arctic Council, which governs resources in the Arctic Circle, India believes that it brings to the table a "wealth of experience" that can "contribute to the information pool" of the Council, according to India's high commissioner to Canada, Admiral (Retd) Nirmal Verma. India has been lobbying for the status but at this time the group of observers, which includes six European nations, is not being expanded. However, with Canada assuming chairmanship of the Council this May, that could change. Hindustan Times


With Markey Eyeing Senate, DeFazio, Grijalva Jockey for Leadership of Key Committee. A potentially bruising battle for the top Democratic slot on the House Natural Resources Committee is looming. Sen. John Kerry's (D-Mass.) confirmation yesterday as secretary of State could trigger a shakeup at the Natural Resources panel, since current ranking member Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) has announced he will run for Kerry's vacant Senate seat. While it is unclear whether Markey's post on the committee will become available -- he would need to win a potential primary battle with Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) and a special election that could include former Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) -- Democrats are already sizing themselves up for Markey's shoes on Resources. E&E News


House Armed Services Announces Subcommittee Membership. The House Armed Services Committee's subpanel that probed the military's biofuels efforts last session, setting off a yearlong battle over the program, is seeing half its membership turn over in the 113th Congress. "Our Members serve as the backbone of the Armed Services Committee," full panel Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said in a news release yesterday announcing the new roster with ranking member Adam Smith (D-Wash.). "I'm pleased with both the leadership and the expertise that our subcommittee chairmen bring to the table." The Readiness Subcommittee, which has jurisdiction over military energy and environmental issues, also has a new chairman. Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.), who lead the biofuels hearing last session, has taken over the Sea Power and Projection Forces Subcommittee, with Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) taking the helm at Readiness. E&E News


Kerry's Confirmation Sparks Questions on Keystone, Climate Decisions. The Senate yesterday overwhelmingly approved one of its top climate change champions, Sen. John Kerry, to be secretary of State. The Massachusetts Democrat was approved on a 94-3 vote, with Kerry abstaining. Republican Sens. James Inhofe of Oklahoma, John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, both of Texas, voted "no." E&E News


Agency Shakes Up Fossil Energy, Clean Coal Leadership. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced yesterday in an email to employees that fossil energy Assistant Secretary Charles McConnell would step down by Friday. The announcement about McConnell follows the departure of the deputy assistant secretary for clean coal, James Wood. Both men have been at the center of the administration's efforts to deal with carbon capture and sequestration. E&E News


obamaObama Budget Looks Four Weeks Behind as Agencies Get Direction. The White House is at least four weeks behind in preparing the administration's proposed fiscal 2014 budget, which by law is due Feb. 4 but now looks unlikely to be delivered before March. The Office of Management and Budget typically completes a process called passback in late November, in which White House budget officials tell federal departments and agencies the changes they have decided to make in their spending requests. But this year, OMB began providing the information to agencies only Monday, according to officials in the executive and legislative branches. Congressional Quarterly


University of Alaska to Address Committees. University of Alaska President Pat Gamble is set to address legislators on the state of the public university system. Gamble is scheduled to appear before a joint meeting of the House and Senate Education committees on Wednesday afternoon. Anchorage Daily News


Kerttula Hopeful for Coastal Zone Bill This Year. House Democratic leader Beth Kerttula says she's hopeful that legislation will be introduced this year to re-establish a coastal management program.Kerttula says she's heard that something is being worked on. Last week, Rep. Bryce Edgmon, chairman of the House Bush Caucus, said he expected a coastal management bill to be introduced but didn't know who would do it or what it would look like. Anchorage Daily News


Climate-Induced Displacement of Alaska Native Communities. Alaska has warmed twice as fast as the global average during the past half-century, and temperatures are projected to rise 1.5-5