At Begich’s request, Obama administration creating an envoy-to-the-Arctic position

posted at 2:31 pm on February 15, 2014 by Erika Johnsen

The ice in the North Pole has been receding for at least the last four decades, and that combined with technological innovation has slowly opened up new opportunities for developing the region’s untapped oil and gas reserves, taking advantage of new shipping routes, creating new national security initiatives, and etcetera. Canada, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Russia, and the United States all have territory up in the Arctic, but Russia especially has been on it, devoting considerable time and resources (like their wieldy fleet of icebreakers) to prepare to reap the full economic benefit of the region.

Alaskan lawmakers, especially Sens. Mark Begich (D) and Lisa Murkowski (R), have been hyper-critical of the Obama administration for years now for their blasé lack of mindfulness concerning the Arctic and the race for influence that’s happening up there. Whether it’s a mere gesture to try and throw a bone to Begich is his tough reelection race or because they’re actually realizing that there’s a huge opportunity cost in continuing to ignore the Arctic — or both — the Obama administration is finally creating a position for an envoy to the Arctic and fulfilling a request for which Begich has been pushing since 2008. Via The Hill:

The announcement, in a letter to Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), comes amid increasing concerns that other nations – notably Russia – are staking claims in the Arctic amid a regional race for oil, gas and minerals sparked by global climate change.

Kerry told Begich that “time is of the essence” as the U.S. prepares to preside over the eight-nation Arctic Council next year and that he would “shortly” name a “high level individual of substantial stature and expertise to serve as Special Representative for the Arctic Region.”

“For a long time now, I’ve shared the view that the Arctic region really is the last global frontier, and the United States needs to elevate our attention and effort to keep up with the opportunities and consequences presented by the Arctic’s rapid transformation,” Kerry wrote to Begich. …

“It’s not always easy explaining to Washington bureaucrats how things are different at home in Alaska, but today’s decision by Secretary of State John Kerry to finally create an Arctic Ambassador is an important step in the right direction,” Begich said in a statement. “The bottom line is that the changes we see in the Arctic warrant a higher level of involvement from the U.S. and this position will allow us to better exercise leadership and vision in Arctic policy moving forward.”

Murkowski, however, was wary of the real impact of the ostensible effort:

Murkowski, in a statement, said the White House’s efforts to seize on opportunities opening in the Arctic so far “have been a national embarrassment.”

While she said she welcomed the administration devoting more energy to an Arctic agenda, she questioned whether a special representative would be “on par” with an ambassador, which she said most of the eight Arctic nations have. Murkowski said she would seek clarity from Kerry on that point. …

She sent a letter to the president earlier this week expressing disappointment with the White House’s plan for the Arctic. …

“The United States has never been last in a race to the future, but absent any visionary leadership and meaningful resourcing, we will continue to take a back seat and fail to capitalize on all the Arctic has to offer,” Murkowski wrote.

The White House has been reluctant to take a more active role in the Arctic so far, but with any luck, this is a sign that they’re realizing the United States can’t afford to miss out on all the resource development likely to go down there over the coming years — especially since the greens will be most critical of how this jibes with their climate-change agenda.


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Warming!!!

Schadenfreude on February 15, 2014 at 2:32 PM

Begich MUST be thrown out, at all costs!!!

Schadenfreude on February 15, 2014 at 2:32 PM

Dear Liar will appoint Mr. Heat Miser.

rbj on February 15, 2014 at 2:34 PM

May Begich, obama and the greens all suffocate, from hypocrisy.

Schadenfreude on February 15, 2014 at 2:36 PM

Well, lookyheah: Obama notices, finally, “the Arctic.”

I’m sure anyone appointed to that region by Obama will make sure there’s lotso’ room for the caribou and Russians.

Lourdes on February 15, 2014 at 2:36 PM

If King Barack is on the case…………nothing will happen.

GarandFan on February 15, 2014 at 2:37 PM

Murkowski, in a statement, said the White House’s efforts to seize on opportunities opening in the Arctic so far “have been a national embarrassment.”

Finally: Murkowski is right about something.

Lourdes on February 15, 2014 at 2:38 PM

I would have thought Santa was too closely linked to Chritianity for these guys?

sharrukin on February 15, 2014 at 2:39 PM

Putin will belittle obama, soon enough.

Schadenfreude on February 15, 2014 at 2:39 PM

..aaaaand 9 years down the road, after the EPA finishes their “assessment”…they will need another study. But they are totally open to developing the resource base.

Mimzey on February 15, 2014 at 2:43 PM

… repeat after me …

Begich is up for re election … and in trouble!
Begich is up for re election … and in trouble!
Begich is up for re election … and in trouble!
Begich is up for re election … and in trouble!
Begich is up for re election … and in trouble!
Begich is up for re election … and in trouble!
Begich is up for re election … and in trouble!
Begich is up for re election … and in trouble!

r27cj on February 15, 2014 at 2:46 PM

Can I recommend some progressives to send there? PLEASE?!!?

xNavigator on February 15, 2014 at 2:47 PM

Um y’all, this may be one area where lack of initiative on the 0bama administration might be a good thing. As with all other global warming hysteria, the disappearing arctic ice cap may not be disappearing.

Lourdes on February 15, 2014 at 2:38 PM

How so?

cozmo on February 15, 2014 at 2:50 PM

Do you think that obama was rooting for the commies this morning when they played our NHL in the Olympics.

crosshugger on February 15, 2014 at 2:53 PM

Cool!

But will he send his friends, or his enemies?

Socratease on February 15, 2014 at 2:53 PM

Polar bear ambassador?

Laura Castellano on February 15, 2014 at 2:54 PM

As with all other global warming hysteria, the disappearing arctic ice cap may not be disappearing.

Lourdes on February 15, 2014 at 2:38 PM

How so?

cozmo on February 15, 2014 at 2:50 PM

Arctic ice cap increases 60% in one year

http://www.examiner.com/article/arctic-ice-cap-increases-60-one-year-so-is-an-ice-age-now-coming

I have my doubts that any Obama appointment would be honest enough to admit any of this.

sharrukin on February 15, 2014 at 2:55 PM

the Obama administration for years now for their blasé lack of mindfulness concerning the Arctic (*world*)and the race for influence that’s happening up (*out*) there.

FIFY. Another triumph of the Obama administration, eh?

I wonder if the new ambassador speaks Arctic, or just raised lots o’ money?

DublOh7 on February 15, 2014 at 2:56 PM

Must present envoy credentials to penguins.

gerrym51 on February 15, 2014 at 2:56 PM

Cool!

But will he send his friends, or his enemies?

Socratease on February 15, 2014 at 2:53 PM

I hope they can speak polar bear.

crankyoldlady on February 15, 2014 at 2:57 PM

sharrukin on February 15, 2014 at 2:55 PM

I would have gone with this link as being more reliable over a one year gain.

But tomaytow/tomahta

cozmo on February 15, 2014 at 2:58 PM

gerrym51 on February 15, 2014 at 2:56 PM

Wrong pole.

cozmo on February 15, 2014 at 2:59 PM

Sounds like a gig for Uncle Joe.

Art Vandelay on February 15, 2014 at 2:59 PM

If we don’t stake our claim there the Russians and Chinese will own it all. As someone else said the only problem would be that they would have to admit the ice hasn’t melted.

crankyoldlady on February 15, 2014 at 3:00 PM

Murkowski, in a statement, said the White House’s efforts to seize on opportunities opening in the Arctic so far “have been a national embarrassment.”

Becky Bohrer on February 14, 2014 Associated Press, JUNEAU, Alaska

Finally: Murkowski is right about something.

Lourdes on February 15, 2014 at 2:38 PM

.
Wow . . . . . this is going to require some real pondering.

I mean … when you find yourself in agreement with Lisa Murkowski, it just causes confusion.

listens2glenn on February 15, 2014 at 3:00 PM

Does the ambassador speak Arctichian?

Schadenfreude on February 15, 2014 at 3:01 PM

Schadenfreude on February 15, 2014 at 3:01 PM

As long as the checks clear, what does it really matter at this point?

cozmo on February 15, 2014 at 3:02 PM

Cool. An envoy to Santa! Oh, wait . . . isn’t Alaska in his territory?

francesca on February 15, 2014 at 3:04 PM

As long as the checks clear, what does it really matter at this point?

cozmo on February 15, 2014 at 3:02 PM

Checks can be easily traced, Obama prefers cash on the barrel head.

RickB on February 15, 2014 at 3:06 PM

And who appropriates the money to pay such a person and their staff?

Again, does this come out of the White House VacayWagu&Golf fund?

ConstantineXI on February 15, 2014 at 3:12 PM

Hmmm. Will need to look this up, but didn’t Palin first suggest this back when she was governor

ConservativePartyNow on February 15, 2014 at 3:20 PM

An Envoy to floating ice?

Can an Ambassador to Boxes of Rocks be far behind?

ajacksonian on February 15, 2014 at 3:32 PM

I thought Obama named Jay Leno ambassador to Antarctica, couldn’t he do both jobs?

Annar on February 15, 2014 at 3:37 PM

John McCain: “Sir, have you actually been to the Arctic before?”

Nominee: “Why, yes, in fact, my wife is a Polar Bear.”

McCain: “Uh… I have no further questions for this- wait, I do have one more… no, wait, ummm that seems like we… well, that’s that” HEAD EXPLODES

Sorry, not meant as a commentary on anything, just a random thought I had…..

Fathom on February 15, 2014 at 3:37 PM

I was in Alaska for a basketball tournament back around Thanksgiving

I heard and saw a LOT of Begich ads

One particular radio ad was a good one. Basically it was about how Begich understood everyone’s frustration with Obamacare. How bad it was, and how he is fighting to improve it. He said something like “If I had it my way, we would give the states more power to select plans” and then said “We Alaskans don’t do one thing, and that is quit. I will not quit fighting to improve the health care law”. Then it closed by saying how independent Begich is.

It was pretty pathetic to say the least.

tcufrog on February 15, 2014 at 3:38 PM

Canada, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Russia residents have lived in the arctic for thousands of years.

So, some half-wit community organizer from Chicago is going to come in and tell them how to manage the arctic?

Yea, right.

MichaelGabriel on February 15, 2014 at 4:05 PM

So, an Obamaa bundler is going to be stationed in Barrow? Given how geographically clueless they seem to be, there should be a crowd of volunteers.

msr on February 15, 2014 at 4:09 PM

Smart power

anuts on February 15, 2014 at 4:18 PM

Erika, you are pretty good but don’t echo liberal watermelon talking points.

The arctic sea ice HAS NOT been “receding for at least the last four decades.”

See this record of polar ice since 1979. Notice arctic sea ice had a positive trend until about the year 2000. Notice also that it is presently beginning a upward trend.

http://www.climate4you.com/images/NSIDC%20GlobalArcticAntarctic%20SeaIceArea.gif

http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/seaice.anomaly.arctic.png

Viator on February 15, 2014 at 4:30 PM

Will PBHO bow before the majesty of the Polar Bear King?

MJBrutus on February 15, 2014 at 4:32 PM

Russia is so sure the arctic ice is “receding for at least the last four decades” that it has built and continues to build a fleet of huge nuclear ice breakers to smash routes through the receding and non-existent ice.

http://en.ria.ru/russia/20131105/184536081.html

A video of one of Russia’s nuclear ice breakers breaking through the non existent arctic ice.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q6OHHGrVM3g

Number of US nuclear ice breakers = 0.

Viator on February 15, 2014 at 4:39 PM

The ice in the North Pole has been receding for at least the last four decades,

Uh…no it hasn’t. As others above have provided many charts and graphs, a few years of *below normal* ice levels in our 34 year history of measuring ice levels by satellite do not make a 4 decade trend. Not sure where that came from.

Johnnyreb on February 15, 2014 at 4:39 PM

Putin will belittle obama, soon enough.

Schadenfreude on February 15, 2014 at 2:39 PM

I relish the thought. Sad.

Franklin100 on February 15, 2014 at 4:40 PM

…it’s a pant-less position!

KOOLAID2 on February 15, 2014 at 4:58 PM

This is actually a good idea and long past due. The U.S. is not taking our interests or our adversaries intent in the region seriously. This is another reason why that blundering buffoon Tsunis cannot be our ambassador to Norway. They are too important as a strategic ally in the region.

stuartm650 on February 15, 2014 at 5:11 PM

Perhaps Obama can find another good fundraiser to be honored with an ambassadorship, except, I doubt if any if them actually want to go live there.

Techster64 on February 15, 2014 at 6:44 PM

The ice in the North Pole has been receding for at least the last four decades…

Nuh unh.

Akzed on February 15, 2014 at 7:22 PM

Arctic Sea Ice Volume Increases By 50%: ‘Satellite data shows Arctic sea ice was 50%thicker in Autumn 2013 than it was in Autumn 2012 (US National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC)

Akzed on February 15, 2014 at 7:23 PM

You really must stop quoting scientific evidence and facts. The ‘Party of Science’™ has all the facts it needs, thank you, from Al Gore and a hockey stick.*

*Both of which have been repeatedly debunked, but they’re ignoring that inconvenient truth.

xNavigator on February 15, 2014 at 11:05 PM

Might as well, since it’s going to be a tropical seaside resort in ten years AMIRITE?!?

/s

The Schaef on February 17, 2014 at 1:42 PM

The announcement, in a letter to Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), comes amid increasing concerns that other nations – notably Russia – are staking claims in the Arctic amid a regional race for oil, gas and minerals sparked by global climate change.

In recent years, there have been a number of submarines from Russia, Norway, and Denmark (which owns Greenland) exploring under the Arctic for mineral deposits.

While they are fairly mum about the mineral deposits they have found, they have published reports of large springs of hot water (some of it under pressure at over 300 degrees) gushing out of the sea bottom along a ridge under the Arctic, which enable the survival of unusual life forms.

This would suggest that any recent reduction in Arctic sea ice is NOT due to some slight warming due to extra CO2 in the air, but the ice is being melted FROM BELOW by gushing hot water, which mankind cannot affect or prevent.

Steve Z on February 17, 2014 at 4:18 PM