Murkowski Introduces Comprehensive Arctic Bill

Focuses on National Security, Shipping, Research, & Trade

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), a leader on Arctic issues, introduced the Arctic Commitment Act, comprehensive legislation to address national priorities in the Arctic Region. The bill is cosponsored by U.S. Senator Angus King (I-ME), co-chair of the Senate Arctic Caucus with Senator Murkowski. The legislation includes a wide variety of Arctic-focused provisions pertaining to national security, shipping, research, and trade. It requires reports on eliminating Russia’s monopoly on Arctic shipping and establishing a permanent U.S. maritime presence in the Arctic. It calls for investments in deepwater Arctic ports and improves coordination among federal agencies on Arctic matters. The legislation also makes necessary updates to the Arctic Research and Policy Act.

“I have long raised the importance of Alaska’s location and the immense value being an Arctic nation provides to our nation,” said Senator Murkowski. “This leadership role requires our attention, stewardship and active effort. I am proud to introduce this comprehensive Arctic bill—covering everything from arctic shipping, to national security, to domain awareness and presence, and strengthening our relationships with fellow Arctic nations. Opportunities abound in the Arctic, but accompanying them are great challenges and serious competition. This legislation takes measures to help protect our Arctic interests, project our capabilities in the High North, leverage our strategic location, and deepen relations with Arctic allies. The United States is an Arctic nation, and we must invest and lead in the region.”

“The United States is an Arctic Nation, and it is long overdue that we think and act strategically to seize the new opportunities of the High North, as well as the challenges of the region,” said Senator King.  “We cannot be bystanders in the region when we are at a true inflection point in the Arctic.  We must be participants – and part of that leadership role includes investments in infrastructure, and standing up for our national interests through military and policy means that demonstrate our commitment and vision to making our presence a priority there.  I thank my Co-Chair on the Senate Caucus for sharing this bipartisan perspective as we make our intentions clear to pursue and defend America’s interests.”

Click here for bill text.

Bill Details:

  • Eliminating a Russian Monopoly on Arctic Shipping. This legislation requires the Department of Transportation to submit a report to Congress describing the control and influence of the Russian Federation on shipping in the Arctic and includes a plan for eliminating or preventing a Russian monopoly to enable an increased U.S. presence in the Arctic shipping domain.
  • Establishing a permanent maritime presence in the U.S. Arctic. The legislation requires the Commandant of the Coast Guard and the Secretary of the Navy to submit a report that outlines the requirements necessary to establish a persistent, year-round presence of the Navy and the Coast Guard in the Arctic region at the Port of Nome, the natural deepwater port of Unalaska, the natural deepwater port of Port Clarence, and any other deepwater port that would facilitate such a presence. It also requires cost estimates of implementing the requirements and considers the establishment of onshore infrastructure required to support year-round maritime operations in the vicinity of the Bering Sea and the Arctic region.
  • Implementing Arctic Strategies at the Port of Nome. Requires the Secretary of the Navy, in consultation with the Commandant of the Coast Guard, to coordinate with the Chief of Engineers of the Army Corps of Engineers to ensure that the Port of Nome is usable for the implementation of the National Strategy for the Arctic Region and the various Arctic-focused military service strategies.
  • Amending the Deepwater Port Act of 1974. Amends the Deepwater Port Act by adding language allowing the Secretary of Energy to issue a license for the export of hydrogen in all of its forms, including as liquefied natural gas, hydrogen, and ammonia.
  • Arctic Research and Policy Act (ARPA) of 1984. Amends the ARPA to reflect today’s environment such as reflecting the importance of research pertaining to climate change and the critical role of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission.
  • Arctic Executive Steering Committee (AESC). Permanently establishes the AESC within the Executive of the President, to provide necessary coordination across federal agencies to advance an integrated plan for the Arctic.
  • Crosscut report on Arctic research programs. Requires the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to provide a crosscut report on Arctic research programs as prescribed in ARPA to Congress, and provide a copy of the report to the National Science Foundation, the United States Arctic Research Commission, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy.
  • Expanding investment by the United States International Development Finance Corporation in Arctic countries. Expresses the Sense of Congress that Arctic nations are important partners with the United States; and the United States International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) should make investments in Arctic countries to facilitate technologies that contribute to energy security and durable, sustainable opportunities for indigenous entities. It authorizes the DFC to provide financing to entities in Arctic countries, including Arctic indigenous organizations, for projects that involve the responsible extraction and development of critical minerals and projects that the Chief Executive Officer of the DFC, in coordination with the Secretary of State, determine to be in the strategic interest of the United States. Russia is excluded from the definition of “Arctic Countries.
  • Strengthening our relationship with Arctic Nations. Expresses the Sense of Congress pertaining to a Free Trade Agreement with Iceland and establishes that a citizen of Iceland shall be eligible for an E visa (for an investor or trader who is a national of a foreign country with a treaty of commerce and navigation with the United States) if Iceland provides a similar nonimmigrant status to U.S. nationals.

Background: Senator Murkowski is the leading expert among her Congressional colleagues on Arctic issues and has worked continuously to raise awareness of the region. At the beginning of the 114th Congress, Senator Murkowski and Senator King formed the Senate Arctic Caucus to advance issues important to the Arctic and to the people who live there. Murkowski is the Vice Chairman of the Standing Committee of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region. Murkowski has also led the charge to recapitalize and expand America’s fleet of Polar Security Cutters. Senator Murkowski paved the way for the Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies to be established and in her role as an appropriator, she secured $10 million in the Fiscal Year 2021 appropriations package to fund the center.

Related Issues: Arctic