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July 15, 2014 at 6:45 AM

The Arctic as the 21st century Northwest Passage

The headline is how U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Everett., describes the role and challenges facing the United States in the climate change evolving Arctic. The North Pole is rich with mineral resources, and the looming shortcut for shipping is attracting lots of attention.

Refit the Polar Sea for Arctic duty. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Refit the Polar Sea for Arctic duty.
(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

The topic has even caught the attention of the National Journal, a distinguished source of political commentary in the nation’s capital. A recent article points out Larsen is leading the effort to refurbish the Polar Sea, a heavy-duty icebreaker that is languishing dockside in Seattle. The Polar Star, overhauled in Seattle, returned to duty in 2012.

The U.S. Coast Guard, and others, see a need for at least three heavy-duty icebreakers for the Coast Guard to carry out its duties at the top and bottom of the planet.

Larsen joined with U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., to introduce legislation to establish a U.S. ambassador at large for Arctic affairs. A June announcement of the proposal points out that Arctic-related issues are now spread across 20 federal agencies. The new post would coordinate those activities, and chair the Arctic Council when the U.S. will preside over the multinational panel for two years starting in 2015. The council has eight member states.

As the Arctic passage opens up with climate changes, a whole list of topics from sovereignty to law enforcement, resource acquisition to maritime safety come into play. The U.S. has a big stake in every issue. Larsen is paying attention. Thank the National Journal for helping get the word out about the duties and obligations to be managed.

Comments | Topics: Arctic, coast guard, icebreakers

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