Begich, Murkowski Call for National Arctic Strategy

Letter to the President outlines need for formal Arctic goals, objectives

Washington, D.C. - Making the point that the United States is the only Arctic nation lacking a formal strategy on the Arctic, U.S. Senators Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski are calling on President Obama to create of an overall U.S. strategy for the Arctic.

In a letter to the President, Sens. Begich and Murkowski stress that now is the time for the United States to develop an expanded policy which ties together all of the policies and visions of the multiple federal agencies dealing with energy and other development opportunities in the Arctic.

“Developing an American Arctic strategy is especially timely now, with the hope for offshore oil and gas exploration in Alaska’s Arctic this summer, the number of cargo ships transiting the Bering Strait are increasing to new record highs and America’s indigenous peoples are justifiably concerned with the impacts of these developments and changing conditions on their subsistence ways of life,” the senators write.

The senators point out the national strategies of other nations identify future Arctic needs and priorities, goals and objectives around areas such as energy development, marine resources, needs for infrastructure, vessel monitoring, and more. Begich and Murkowski say development of a comprehensive Arctic policy for the U.S. could be part of the legacy of the Administration.

In the final days of the administration of former President George Bush, a brief Arctic policy paper was issued but since then, dozens of federal agencies have been working on various aspects of Arctic development and protection with little coordination. Several other Arctic nations such as Canada and Norway have produced comprehensive Arctic strategies.

“We pledge the support of our offices to work with you on its development and finalization,” the senators conclude.

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