Arctic Update Header
March 4, 2013

Today's Eventstodaysevents  


The House is expected to clear a bill to reauthorize medical disaster and emergency response programs. The Senate votes on two judicial nominations. 


Obama to Tap New Budget Director. President Barack Obama is expected early Monday to announce his intention to nominate Sylvia Mathews Burwell as the director of the Office of Management and Budget, according to a White House official. Burwell, if confirmed, would replace Jacob J. Lew, who served as the White House budget director before being confirmed and sworn in as Treasury secretary last week. Her nomination had been rumored, but even as late as last week, OMB officials declined to confirm that Burwell was under consideration. Roll Call


budget3 Scenarios for Sequester. President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans are dug in on the sequester, and there are no signs of a quick fix to the $85 billion in across-the-board spending cuts that both sides say they disdain. That could certainly change after a few bad months of economic numbers or a public outcry. But until average Americans feel the cuts, neither side looks willing to budge on the key issue of revenues without some game-changing factor. And neither party is inclined to risk a government shutdown on sequester politics. Politico 


Obama Nominates Energy, EPA Heads. President Barack Obama on Monday nominated Gina McCarthy to lead the Environmental Protection Agency and MIT professor Ernest J. Moniz to serve as Energy secretary during his second term. "They're going to be making sure that we're investing in American energy, that we're doing everything that we can to combat the threat of climate change, that we're going to be creating jobs and economic opportunity in the first place," Obama said in introducing his nominees at a White House news conference. "They are going to be a great team. And these are some of my top priorities going forward." Roll Call


president signingObama Issues Order Implementing Sequester. In the end, the long-feared sequester of federal funds came swiftly and quietly. On Friday evening, President Obama issued an order putting sequestration into effect. He was required by law to do so by the end of the day in the absence of a congressional agreement to stop the $85 billion in across-the-board-cuts. Government Executive




House to Vote on 2013 Appropriations Next Week. The U.S. House next week will vote on a spending bill that would fund the military for the remainder of fiscal 2013, according to House Armed Services Committee Vice Chairman Rep. Mac Thornberry. The Texas Republican told reporters Friday that the chamber will take up a 2013 defense appropriations bill that would give the Pentagon some fiscal maneuverability. The department, like the rest of the federal government, is funded under a continuing resolution (CR) that keeps spending at fiscal 2012 levels, but defense officials are unable to fund certain programs and accounts due to restrictions stemming from a CR. Federal Times


Alaska Native Tribal Leaders Voice Concerns about House Bills in Juneau. A group of Inupiat tribal leaders traveled to Juneau recently to meet with state lawmakers concerning several proposed pieces of legislation that the group alleges would limit the amount of participation tribal members would have in resource development projects in the state. Lillian Stone, a school teacher from Anaktuvuk Pass; Earl Kingik, of Point Hope; Willard Neakok, president of the Point Lay Tribal Council; and Rosemary Ahtuangaruak of Barrow all visited the state's capital to express their concern about several bills currently moving through the House. The proposed legislation would "roll back public notice and participation in resource development projects" and "could lock Inupiat communities out of decision-making on major projects such as oil and gas development in Arctic near-shore waters, construction of a pipeline across the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska and the proposed road to Umiat, which would provide access for oil and gas development and exploration that would harm caribou and subsistence activities," wrote Mark Glyde, senior program director of Resource Media, which promoted the group's activity. Alaska Dispatch


Polar bearAppeals Court Ruling Determines Polar Bears Will Retain 'Threatened' Listing. A federal court of appeals ruled Friday that polar bears will remain listed as "threatened" under the Endangered Species Act, despite a legal objection brought by the State of Alaska. Though the bears are not currently endangered, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined in May 2008 that polar bears should be listed as endangered on the basis of receding sea ice, an important part of the bears' habitat. The ruling is significant because it marks the first time that an animal will earn protection under the Endangered Species Act based solely on the potential harm caused by climate change. Polar bears can occasionally swim long distances during the summer months in an attempt to reach land from their winter home on the ice. In 2012, the levels of sea ice in the Arctic reached new all-time lows, just five years after the previous record low occurred.  Alaska Dispatch


NSF Inspector General, House Appropriators to Discuss Problems with Grant Management. House appropriators will hear about challenges the National Science Foundation faces in ensuring taxpayer dollars are well-spent at an oversight hearing Wednesday. NSF hands out more than 11,000 grants totaling about $7 billion each year and manages big project contracts totaling nearly $11 billion. E&E News


Approps Panel Dives Into Fiscal 2014 Budget for Agency's Science Research. A panel of the House Appropriations Committee tomorrow will examine the Energy Department's Office of Science fiscal 2014 budget, even as questions persist about the impact of mandatory spending cuts under sequestration triggered last week. The Office of Science is the lead federal agency for fundamental scientific research for energy and the largest federal sponsor of basic research in the physical sciences. The program helps support about 25,000 researchers at about 300 U.S. colleges and the national laboratories. The Office of Science is made up of 10 programs, including advanced scientific computing, basic energy sciences, biological and environmental research, fusion energy sciences, high-energy physics, nuclear physics, workforce development, science laboratories infrastructure, safeguards, and security and science program direction. E&E News


permafrostScience Subpanel Turns Its Attention to Global Warming Policy. A House panel whose leaders are skeptical of the science of man-made climate change will wade into the issue Wednesday, when it holds a hearing titled "policy-relevant climate issues in context." The hearing will be the first held this Congress by the Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Environment that will focus primarily on climate change. E&E News


Agencies Begin Making Across-the-Board Cuts. With Congress unable to agree on a deficit-reduction deal, federal agencies are beginning to implement the blunt, across-the-board spending cuts that took effect Friday night. To contribute to the total $85 billion reduction known as "sequestration," virtually every domestic spending account is seeing its fiscal 2013 budget reduced by about 5 percent. But those cuts are actually taking about a 9 percent bite from remaining unspent funds, because the cuts are taking effect with just seven months left in the fiscal year, according to the White House Office of Management and Budget. E&E News


Jewell, SallyJewell to be Grilled on Wide Range of Energy, Wildlife Challenges. Sally Jewell's first political test as President Obama's nominee for Interior secretary comes Thursday before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, where she will be grilled on how she plans to run the $12 billion agency that controls one-fifth of the U.S. landmass and nearly all of its oceans. Jewell, 56, has had less than a month to cram for what could be a grueling and lengthy confirmation hearing, her first step toward replacing outgoing Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. There's no shortage of questions senators may ask about balancing conservation and development on federal lands -- including a pending decision on whether to allow a road through an Alaska wildlife refuge, an issue over which Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has threatened to block Jewell's confirmation. E&E News


US and Russia Team Up in Bid to Aid Polar Bears. With relations between Russia and the United States increasingly frosty because of entrenched disagreements over Syria, child adoptions, missile systems and other issues, the two countries have quietly joined forces to help polar bears. Russia and the United States, two of the five countries where polar bears live, are now the main allies pushing for greater protection for the bears under a global treaty on endangered species, which is being reviewed this week at a conference in Bangkok. New York Times


Alaska Hair Mercury Testing Shows Low Level of Concern. The latest update of the state's hair mercury testing program of Alaska women of childbearing age indicates that hair mercury levels are below a level of concern. The state Section of Epidemiology began testing for the presence of mercury in hair in 2002. Through 2012, the state has analyzed the hair samples of 312 pregnant and 685 non-pregnant women of childbearing age from 127 Alaska communities, according to a recent notice from the Section of Epidemiology, which is a part of the state Department of Health and Social Services. Fairbanks Daily News-Miner 


Stedman to Tout Arctic at Energy Council: Sitka Senator Sharing Group This Year. The 90-day legislative session is now more than halfway done, and as usual, the Alaska State Legislature is coming up for air during the coming week as many of its members leave town. The main event of the week is the Energy Council's annual meeting in Washington, D.C., which is drawing at least one-third of the state's legislators - including Sen. Bert Stedman, R-Sitka, who is chairman of the Energy Council this year. Juneau Empire


ScienceNormative Science: It is easy-and wrong-for scientists to become stealth policy advocates. Scientific information is important in many policy debates in the Pacific Northwest (salmon; wildfire severity; human activities and climate; genetically modified organisms; water scarcity). Science is essential in such policy debates, but I am concerned that policy-biased science is increasingly common. Science should be objective and based on the best information available. Too often, however, scientific information presented to the public and decision-makers is infused with hidden policy preferences. Such science is termed normative, and it is a corruption of the practice of good science. Normative science is defined as "information that is developed, presented or interpreted based on an assumed, usually unstated, preference for a particular policy choice." Oregon State


Papp Calls for Resilience in Annual Coast Guard Address. The Coast Guard has commissioned its fourth Fast Response Cutter, will christen its fourth National Security Cutter in October and will soon announce three finalists for the Offshore Patrol Cutter procurement, Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Robert Papp said Feb. 27 during his annual state of the service address. The Coast Guard is in its second decade of an ongoing fleet recapitalization effort; some of the ships the NRCs will replace will turn 50 starting next year, Papp noted during his address. In addition, an overhaul of the heavy icebreaker USCGC Polar Star is complete; in a commandant's situation report. Papp says the icebreaker will undertake its first mission to Antarctica since 2006. Fierce Homeland Security


NOAA Assumes Full Operational Responsibilities of Environmental Satellite. A recent major milestone to develop the next-generation of polar-orbiting satellites was reached when operational control of America's newest environmental satellite was transitioned to NOAA. These satellites are critical to providing advanced warning for severe weather including tornado outbreaks, heavy snowfall, hurricanes, heat waves, floods, and wildfires. Data from the Suomi National Polar-orbiting Partnership (Suomi NPP) satellite will continue to strengthen NOAA's ability to predict severe weather days in advance. Suomi NPP data are also used to generate dozens of environmental data products, including measurements of clouds, vegetation, ocean color, and land and sea surface temperatures. NOAA


Study: Barents Sea Could be a new Norwegian oil and gas province. Norway may be in for an even bigger economic boom after a new survey in the previously disputed area of the Barents Sea uncovered significant gas and oil, reports the Barents Observer. Norway's Oil and Energy Minister Ola Borten Moe is quoted in the report as saying that the country's Arctic Finnmark Region is poised as "Norway's next oil province." Alaska Dispatch 

Legislative Actionfutureevents  


No formal legislative action was taken on Arctic legislation yesterday.

Future Events                      

** Updated Link**Economic Opportunities and Impacts in a Changing Arctic, March 6, 2013, Washington, DC.
Come hear a COL panel involving Brendan Kelly (OSTP), Joel Clement (DOI), Frank Herr (ONR), Michael Kearns (National Ocean Industries Assoc.) and Bill  Mowitt (Staffer, Sen. Begich) discuss this topic, moderated by John Farrell (USARC). This panel is part of the 2013 Public Policy Forum sponsored by the Consortium for Ocean Leadership.


US-Canadian Arctic Roundtable, March 7, 2013 (Washington, D.C.). The event is hosted by the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region (PNWER). The roundtable will provide an opportunity for regional stakeholders to learn more about the role of our Federal Governments in the Arctic and the potential impacts on Alaska, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories. A remarkable group of participants and speakers will join the roundtable including, Alaska's U.S. Congressional Delegation and several legislators from PNWER jurisdictions.  They will be joined by Ambassador Gary Doer, Government of Canada and representatives from the U.S. State Department; and the U.S. Arctic Research Commission will attend as well. As PNWER's Arctic Caucus continues to look for solutions to the shared challenges of its three jurisdictions, this meeting will present an opportunity for caucus members and federal representatives to have a dialogue about key priorities for Arctic policy and economic development. The Roundtable will be moderated by Matt Morrison, PNWER Executive Director.


The 43rd Annual Arctic Workshop 2013, March 11-13, 2013: Amherst, Massachusetts. The workshop is an annual gathering for international researchers to present work on any aspect of high-latitude environments (past, present, and future). Organizers strive for a relaxed, friendly, and interactive experience, fostered in part by the workshop's relatively small size. Researchers are invited to present their very latest research; the abstract deadline is just a few weeks before the workshop. Student participation is strongly encouraged, with partial support available to those making presentations (limited number of slots).


The Economist's "Arctic Summit: A New Vista for Trade Energy and the Environment," March 12, 2013. (Oslo, Norway) The event is hosted by The Economist. The Arctic Summit will discuss big issues concerning the region: chase for natural resources, impact of climate change, emergence of new trading routes and the need for responsible governance. The summit has been designed to focus attention and to promote constructive thinking prior to the next Arctic Council Ministers' meeting in 2013. A high-level group of 150 policy-makers, CEOs and influential commentators will spend a day tackling the issues at the heart of the Arctic's future, in discussions led by James Astill, environment editor of The Economist and author of the special report on the Arctic.


Conference of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region, March 12-13, 2013, Washington, D.C. The Standing Committee of the Conference of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region will hold its next meeting in March. One of the main priorities of the Standing Committee was originally to support the establishment of the Arctic Council. The new organization, representing the eight Arctic states (Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the USA) and the European Parliament was founded on 19 September 1996. Since then the Committee has worked actively to promote the work of the Council. The Committee participates in the meetings of the Arctic Council as an observer.


Lecture: Melting Ice: What is happening to Arctic sea ice and what does it mean for us? March 20, 2013, Washington DC.
The National Research Council is sponsoring the 14th annual Roger Revelle Commemorative Lecture, to be given by Dr. John Walsh of the Univ. of Alaska Fairbanks. The lecture, which starts at 5:30 pm in the Baird Auditorium, in the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History (10th Street and Constitution entrance) is free, and open to the public, but
pre-registration, for planning purposes, would be appreciate. Please contact Pamela Lewis ( with questions.


28th Wakefield Symposium: Responses of Arctic Marine Ecosystems to Climate Change, March 26-29, 2013, Anchorage. 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.


Arctic Science Summit Week, April 13-19, 2013. Krakow, Poland. The ASSW is the annual gathering of international organizations engaged in supporting and facilitating Arctic research. Its purpose is to provide opportunities for international coordination, collaboration and cooperation in all fields of Arctic science and to combine science and management meetings. Side meetings organized by groups with interest in the Arctic science and policy will also be held within the week.


American Polar Society 75th Anniversary, April 15-18, 2013, Woods Hole, MA. The American Polar Society will hold a meeting and symposium at Woods Hole, Massachusetts. This meeting and symposium is titled "The Polar Regions in the 21st Century: Globalization, Climate Change and Geopolitics." 


Arctic Observing Summit 2013, April 30- May 2, 2013, Vancouver, BC, CA. The Arctic Observing Summit is led by the International Study of Arctic Change (ISAC). It is a Sustaining Arctic Observing Network (SAON) task and part of the broader SAON implementation process, which is led by the Arctic Council jointly with the International Arctic Science Committee (IASC) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). AOS is a high-level, biennial summit that aims to provide community-driven, science-based guidance for the design, implementation, coordination and sustained long term (decades) operation of an international network of arctic observing systems. The AOS will provide a platform to address urgent and broadly recognized needs of arctic observing across all components of the arctic system, including the human component. It will foster international communication and coordination of long-term observations aimed at improving understanding and responding to system-scale arctic change. The AOS will be an international forum for optimizing resource allocation through coordination and exchange among researchers, funding agencies, and others involved or interested in long term observing activities, while minimizing duplication and gaps.


International Conference on Arctic Ocean Acidification, May 6-8, 2013, Bergen, Norway. The Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP), the Institute of Marine Research, the Norwegian Institute for Water Research, the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research, and the University of British Columbia, Canada, host a conference to consider Arctic Ocean acidification. Topics will include response of Arctic Ocean to increasing CO2 and related changes in the global carbon cycle, social and policy challenges, Arctic Ocean acidification and ecological and biogeochemical coupling, implications of changing Arctic Ocean acidification for northern (commercial and subsistence) fisheries, and future developments.


Private Sector Transportation, Infrastructure, Assets, Response, Capacity, and Development in the Arctic, May 30, 2012, Seattle, WA. A recently-held Arctic transportation workshop in Iceland highlighted the need to better understand private sector transportation infrastructure and assets, recognizing industry's role in the responsible development of resources, response and supportive infrastructure. As a follow-up to its efforts to inventory and map Arctic transportation infrastructure, the Institute of the North is hosting a workshop at the Bell Harbor International Conference Center in Seattle, Washington that focuses on three critical areas: private sector assets and infrastructure in the Arctic, staging areas outside the Arctic that support Northern development, and vessels and technology that are difficult to map but need to be measured for future decision-making. Participants include industry representatives, technical experts, researchers, Coast Guard and other response personnel.


AGU Science Policy Conference, June 24-26, 2013. (Washington, DC) Hundreds of Earth and space scientists, students, policymakers, and industry professionals will discuss key Earth and space science topics that address challenges to our economy, national security, environment, and public safety. This meeting will focus on the science that helps inform policymakers' decisions related to energy, natural hazards, technology and infrastructure, climate, oceans, and the Arctic. The event is hosted by American Geophysical Union (AGU), a Washington, D. C.-based international nonprofit scientific association.

USARC header

Find us on FacebookFollow us on Twitter 

4350 N. Fairfax Drive, Suite 510
Arlington, VA 22203, USA 
(703) 525-0111 (phone)