Legislation introduced to increase the nation’s presence in the Arctic
April 24, 2019
Senator Murkowski is considered the leading expert among her Congressional colleagues on Arctic issues and has worked continuously to raise awareness of the Arctic. At the beginning of the 114th Congress, Senator Murkowski and Senator Angus King (I-ME) formed the Senate Arctic Caucus, to advance issues important to the Arctic and to the people who live there. Murkowski is the U.S. Representative to 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 (aka icebreakers).
“Our new reality in the Arctic is that we are seeing greater opportunities but also greater challenges, such as environmental changes opening sea routes year-round and an increased global interest in the area. These bills will both play a significant role in further developing a plan to address U.S. priorities in the Arctic, while incorporating the input of indigenous Alaskans who live there. This legislation will also encourage those who use our Arctic waterways to contribute to developing infrastructure such as ports and maritime shipping services, in order to ensure the safety and management of the region,” said Senator Murkowski.
Murkowski said, “The Arctic is a national asset and should be treated as a national priority. I’m proud to lead legislation that will help us capitalize on opportunities that are critical to our Arctic strategy, allowing us to truly claim America’s leadership role in this region of global importance. I look forward to continuing conversations with Arctic residents and my colleagues in Washington to move these proposals forward.”
“The retreat of Arctic sea ice, improvements in icebreaking technology, and global demand for resources have led to an increase in human activity in the Arctic while also raising concerns about the future of the region. The SEAL Act will provide the coordination among federal, state, international, and local stakeholders necessary to support the needs of Arctic transportation in the years ahead,” said Senator Sullivan.
“With increased attention and shipping traffic in the Arctic, it’s important that the people who live in the region have a seat at the table when it comes to developing policy,” said Senator Sullivan. “The Arctic Policy Act will create advisory groups that ensure local stakeholders and Alaska Native people are involved in charting the course for the future of the Arctic,” said Sullivan.
“This bill will empower native communities to play a leadership role in charting a way forward in the changing Artic region,” said Senator Schatz. “I’m proud to be working with Senator Murkowski to make sure the United States expands our role in this region in a responsible, strategic way.”
“As the world’s climate warms, so too does the landscape of the Arctic,” said Senator King.
King said, “With melting ice comes increased access to shipping lanes, and we need to be proactive to understand how to safely access economic opportunity while also protecting the unique ecology of the high North and the interests of the Arctic people. Establishing a congressionally charted seaway development corporation would take an important step to strengthen American leadership in the Arctic, explore the prospects of the region, and responsibly understand and mitigate the impacts of climate change.”
The Shipping and Environmental Arctic Leadership Act (SEAL Act), cosponsored by Senators Angus King (I-ME) and Dan Sullivan (R-AK), addresses increasing shipping and maritime traffic by establishing a congressionally charted seaway development corporation in the Arctic. Specifically, the bill establishes a corporation that will develop a voluntary tariff model—consistent with customary international law– to help fund the infrastructural and environmental demands of safe and reliable shipping in the Arctic Region.
Shipping and Environmental Arctic Leadership Act Highlights:
The Arctic Policy Act (APA), cosponsored by Senators Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Dan Sullivan (R-AK), takes steps to increase local and indigenous voices in federal science and policy in the Arctic. The APA aims to improve coordination and collaboration across agencies to advance an integrated plan for the Arctic, including establishing an Advisory Committee with local and tribal input in shaping national Arctic priorities.
Arctic Policy Act Highlights:
Editing by Mary Kauffman, SitNews
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