Tagged: Arctic

(Credit: Getty)

Offshore Drilling: At What Cost

House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources held a hearing on a discussion draft of the Accessing Strategic Resources Offshore Act (ASTRO Act) (draft bill). Why It Matters – Drilling for oil in the ocean has an impact on our economy and environment. Outer continental shelf (OCS) drilling has been banned in certain areas for several reasons, including disruption to tourism, threats to ecosystems and species, noise pollution, and risk of oil spills. Determining where OCS lease sales can occur involves rigorous assessment. This bill would open all areas of the ocean to drilling, eliminate the president’s ability to designate marine national monuments, and give OCS lease sales authority to the secretary of interior instead of relying solely on the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) five-year plan.

(Credit: Kevin J. Neff/U.S. Coast Guard )

On Thin Ice

What It Was The Senate Arctic Caucus, Senate Oceans Caucus, and Congressional Arctic Working Group, in conjunction with the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission), hosted a briefing, “A New...

Russian nuclear icebreaker Yamal on her way to the North Pole, 2001. (Credit: Wofratz, Wikipedia Commons)

America Losing To Russia 40-3 In Arctic Icebreaker Race

Few ships have a strong enough hull, the appropriate shape, or enough power to push through multiple meters of solid sea ice. Icebreakers are becoming increasingly necessary ships for the Coast Guard as the climate warms and the Arctic thaws, opening the once-inaccessible area to traffic and foreign nations like Russia and China. The House Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation held a hearing to discuss these much-needed vessels (vital for conducting Artic research) with the Coast Guard.

DOI Secretary Zinke may explore offshore drilling in the Arctic. (Credit: BBC)

Does “Balanced” Proposed Interior Budget Tip Scale Towards Oil And Gas?

Ocean territories surrounding the United States cover 3.4 million square nautical miles – more than the entire land area of all 50 states. The Department of the Interior (DOI) has the literally enormous responsibility of “support[ing] stewardship and collaborative conservation and management” of these ocean, Great Lakes, and coastal resources. DOI Secretary Ryan Zinke defended the president’s proposed budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 at a series of hearings this week before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies, and the House Natural Resources Committee.

Aerial Photograph Of Palm Beach Proper, which is endangered by sea-level rise. (Credit: Michael Kagdis/Proper Media Group)

“Mother Nature Doesn’t Belong To A Party”

While most people acknowledge climate change as a significant issue, many do not realize the looming threat it poses to our national security. For many military experts, it’s a risk as pressing as nuclear weapons or terrorism, dramatically altering “the very geostrategic landscape in which the U.S. military operates” (Military Expert Panel Center for Climate and Security Report: Sea Level Rise and the U.S. Military’s Mission). The Department of Defense (DOD) considers climate change a “threat multiplier,” amplifying instability by worsening stressors like food and water scarcity, poverty, and social tensions, which can drive political upheaval and threaten global stability, creating a security threat at home and abroad.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star, the country's only operational heavy icebreaker. (Credit: USCG)

U.S. Presence In The Arctic – Armed Icebreakers?

“U.S. presence in the Arctic is necessary for more than just power projection; it’s a matter of national security,” Representative Dutch Ruppersberger (MD-2) proclaimed during a hearing of the House Appropriations Committee, Homeland Security Subcommittee. If only doing were as easy as saying – even accessing the remote region requires a heavy icebreaker that can ram through at least 20 feet of ice.

The CG Cutter Polar Star, is the Coast Guard's only operational heavy icebreaker. (Credit: PA2 Mariana O'Leary/Coast Guard)

Breaking The Ice For Coast Guard Authorization

Unless you’re golfing, being down 40-1 is not a good way to end a game, but that’s currently the score in the Russia vs. U.S. Arctic turf war. Moscow stands as the military and exploration leader at the top of the world with their massive fleet of 40 icebreakers, compared to our single functioning heavy icebreaker (a second has been out of service since 2010, and the newest addition to the fleet is classified as a medium icebreaker).

Coast Guard Commandant discusses funding and future missions before Senate Commerce Committee. (Credit: Jacob J. Kirk/U.S. Navy)

U.S. Coast Guard’s Role In Maritime Security

The passenger cruise ship Crystal Serenity, with more than 1,700 passengers onboard, became the largest commercial cruise ship to navigate the Northwest Passage in August 2016. As a result of increasing maritime traffic and human activity in the Arctic, the U.S. Coast Guard is keeping a close eye on their ability to maneuver in the region.

The National Academy of Sciences recommends a new advisory board be established to "root out bad behavior." (Credit: Penn State/Flickr)

Federal Regulations And Rulemaking Process Targeted In Bills Introduced In First Days of 115th Congress

It took a matter of hours after the 115th Congress was sworn in on January 3 for bills to be introduced in the House that would significantly impact executive branch regulations and rulemaking. The Midnight Rules Relief Act of 2017 (H.R. 21) and the Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny (REINS) Act (H.R. 26) both passed the House (along nearly party-line votes) less than 56 hours after the start of the session.

The new resilience area spans from north of the Bering Strait, shown here, to north of Bristol Bay, which is farther south. (Credit: NASA/GSFC/JPL/MISR-Team)

Obama Creates ‘Resilience Area’ To Protect Bering Ecosystem

President Barack Obama responded to appeals from Alaska Native villages and gave them more of a say in the federal management of marine resources of the Bering Sea. Obama signed an executive order Friday to create a Northern Bering Sea Climate Resilience Area that will focus “locally tailored” protections on marine resources. The newly created resilience area covers 112,300 square miles and stretches from north of the Bering Strait to north of Bristol Bay. The order requires more focused federal consultation with Alaska tribes and 39 communities that line the west coast of Alaska, along with state officials. The area supports what may be the world’s largest annual marine mammal migration of bowhead and beluga whales, Pacific walrus, ice seals and migratory birds.