Murkowski Responds to New Biden Administration Strategy for the Arctic Region

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, (R-AK), today released the following statement after the Biden administration released an updated National Strategy for the Arctic Region:

“On Monday, two Russian asylum seekers landed on St. Lawrence Island seeking freedom from conscription into a tyrant’s bloody, misbegotten war. The federal agencies responsible for processing these men were more than 700 miles away and it took them an entire day to respond. What this incident makes clear is that even as Putin undertakes rapid military and industrial development in Russia’s Arctic, the United States is behind in its Arctic initiatives.

“While somewhat underwhelming in detail, this updated 10-year strategy from the Biden administration is an important message to the American people that the United States must continue to advance Arctic priorities. It does contain positive elements, many of which implement my priorities to drive greater federal attention and resources to the U.S. Arctic. For example, I’m pleased with the administration’s emphasis on security, infrastructure, climate adaptation and resilience, greater consultation with the State of Alaska and Alaska Native Tribes and Corporations, and its elevation of Arctic diplomacy through the creation of the Arctic Ambassador position – all of which I have called for. 

“At the same time, this strategy very clearly falls short when it comes to our Arctic resources. It gives very little attention to the opportunity and necessity of domestic production of the vast resources in our Arctic. There is no mention of responsible oil and gas development to help offset Russia and ensure reliable, affordable, and cleaner energy supplies for our nation and the world. The strategy suggests that critical minerals can be produced in the Arctic, but the administration’s obstruction of the Ambler Road project makes it impossible to take that seriously. The strategy even invokes the 30x30 initiative, suggesting it is ‘consistent’ with further conservation in the Arctic, in blatant disregard of ANILCA and its ‘no more’ wilderness clauses.

“There is no question this administration and the country need to pay greater attention to the Arctic. This strategy document has promising elements, but it is deliberately incomplete, and that will only work against the United States’ ability to assume a true global leadership role in this crucial region.”

Background: Through her legislative efforts, Senator Murkowski has comprehensively developed Arctic leadership throughout the federal government. In just the last two years, she used her role on the Appropriations Committee to establish the Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies – a Department of Defense Regional Center dedicated to the Arctic located in Anchorage, Alaska. The aim of the Ted Stevens Center is to support defense strategy objectives and policy priorities through a unique academic forum and to foster strong international networks of security leaders to support multilateralism and diplomacy in the region. Murkowski welcomed the news that Major General (Ret.) Randy “Church” Kee was selected by the Department of Defense to serve as the Senior Advisor for Arctic Security Affairs.

Murkowski served as a distinguished guest during the grand opening of the Ted Stevens Center for Arctic Security Studies in Anchorage. At her urging, the U.S. State Department in August 2022 announced the establishment of an Ambassador-at-Large for the Arctic Region.

Senator Murkowski worked through the Appropriations process and with former Secretary Dan Brouillette to re-establish the Department of Energy’s Arctic Energy Office in Fairbanks, Alaska. She also was behind the reactivation of the Arctic Executive Steering Committee within the Executive Office of the President to enhance coordination of federal Arctic policies. She led legislation that created the office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Arctic and Global Resilience, ensuring that the Arctic was properly represented in senior levels within the Pentagon. Murkowski, along with Senator Dan Sullivan, have also been the catalysts behind every military service crafting new Arctic strategies, which has resulted in the reactivation of the 11th Airborne Division – the Arctic Angels – in Alaska. 

Murkowski is co-chair of the Senate Arctic Caucus and heavily engaged in international mediums dedicated to sustaining the Arctic as a zone of peace. She is the U.S. Representative for the Standing Committee of Parliamentarians of the Arctic Region, where she serves as Vice Chair, and participates in international forums held by the Arctic Council. In 2021, Murkowski was presented with the Icelandic Order of the Falcon, the highest honor Iceland can bestow on individuals, in recognition of her efforts on Arctic diplomacy.

Related Issues: Arctic