Fairbanks Daily News-Miner: Federal Arctic Energy Office to open on UAF campus

The University of Alaska Fairbanks campus will be the home of a new federal office focused on Arctic energy.

The office was announced Thursday by Department of Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette and Alaska Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski in her capacity as a chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

The office will focus on the advancement of Arctic energy studies in areas such as research on methane hydrates and development of advanced microgrids and nuclear power systems such as small modular reactors.

“The United States is an Arctic nation, and the region continues to play an essential role in meeting our nation’s energy needs, as well as those of our friends and allies,” Brouillette said in a statement. “DOE’s Arctic Energy Office will grow to strengthen and coordinate our work in energy, science, and national security and help build an Arctic future of prosperity and increased opportunity.”

UAF Chancellor Dan White celebrated the announcement, noting the placement fits well with the ongoing research on UAF’s West Ridge.

“The Arctic Energy Office’s focus aligns well with UAF’s academic and scientific expertise,” White said in a statement issued after the office was announced. “Our deep regional knowledge and international partnerships make UAF a strong partner in advancing America’s security and prosperity by addressing the challenges in the Arctic. I look forward to welcoming the Arctic Energy Office to the UAF Troth Yeddha’ campus in Fairbanks.”

Funding for the office was approved in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2001 but never moved forward. Upon appointment, Brouillette vowed to open the office by the close of this fiscal year.

Alaska is the perfect place for the office, Murkowski said.

“The United States is an Arctic nation because of Alaska, and the reestablishment of the Arctic Energy Office in Fairbanks will ensure greater collaboration between our state’s innovators and the Department of Energy’s cutting-edge researchers,” she said in a recent statement. “I prioritized this office in the appropriations process because I know it will help facilitate the development of new energy technologies that benefit resource-rich Alaska and the country.”

The opening of the office was celebrated by Alaska’s two other Republican members of Congress.

“The reestablishment of the Arctic Energy Office in Fairbanks underscores Congress’ and the Trump Administration’s increasing attention to the Arctic and Alaska’s central role in securing our energy, economic, and national security interests in the region,” said Sen. Dan Sullivan.

Rep. Don Young echoed the praise.

“Alaska’s climate is unlike any other in our nation, making our state a critical hub for research on sustainability in harsh environments,” said Congressman Don Young. “I have been a long-time supporter of Alaska’s Cold Climate Housing Research Center, and have seen their important work for resilient housing first-hand. Continuing this work will be essential to developing new energy technologies and ensuring that Alaska leads the way in their deployment.”

The office will open with three interim staff members focused on fulfilling these research goals.

By:  Erin McGroarty
Source: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner

Related Issues: Arctic, Energy