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.
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.
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.
“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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
Starving polar bears and bleached coral reefs are often the face of climate change today, but what many people do not realize is that climate change also threatens national security. Members of the U.S. national security community have been studying the impacts of climate change, namely sea level rise, and the associated threats to our military installations and missions. The results of their studies were compiled into three reports that were discussed at this week’s first annual Climate and National Security Forum. The forum consisted of three panels with several authors from each report serving on the respective panels.
Imagine trying to navigate through a 500-foot wide waterway in a 110-foot-wide boat containing 65,000 tons of cargo with a dangerous storm bearing down on you. Now imagine doing that without the use of...