Murkowski Stresses Arctic Urgency, Balance with Secretary Kerry

Senator Reminds Secretary of State to Prioritize Arctic Peoples’ Opportunities

Senator Lisa Murkowski today sat down with Secretary of State John Kerry to discuss the nation’s role in the Arctic as the U.S. will assume the Chair of the Arctic Council in April. Considered the top voice on Arctic matters on Capitol Hill, Murkowski joined Secretary Kerry and the U.S. Special Representative to the Arctic, Admiral Robert J. Papp, at the State Department Headquarters.

Speaking about the conversation afterwards, Murkowski saw the meeting as a positive signal that Secretary Kerry and the State Department are focusing on advancing an Arctic agenda, saying:

Any opportunity that I have to lay out the Arctic Challenges and opportunities to policymakers and individuals who are in a position to make something happen is a good day.  I had a chance for a 40 minute visit with Secretary Kerry, a man who has been all over the world in a lot of hot spots … It was a chance to talk about the direction that the United States will take when we assume the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council and the challenges that will be in front of us as an Arctic Nation.

(Murkowski discusses her conversation with Secretary Kerry – Click to view.)

However, Murkowski has serious concerns about the administrations’ single-minded approach to the Arctic from a climate perspective, at the expense of allowing those who live in the region to invest and participate in economic activities that would create a better standard of living.

I think the Secretary is very keyed in on that one issue, so one of the things I reinforced with him was to ensure we keep in mind those who live and work and raise their families in the Arctic – those people looking for economic opportunities.  It was important to be able to remind him of the role of the Arctic Economic Council and the role that strong economies can play in people having their basic needs met – whether it is safe drinking water, affordable energy, sanitation systems, or the ability to engage in telecommunications.  The Arctic is a real, living, breathing dynamic place; it is not a place locked in ice.  So the ability to present the Arctic conversation to a very busy Secretary of State was important today.