A U.S. ambassador says Arctic Nations are scrambling to meet the challenges posed by ice free arctic waters.
By Dan Carpenter
Channel 2 News
On Tuesday, Assistant Secretary David Balton with the U.S. Department of State spoke of the many opportunities and challenges that come with ice free water in the Arctic at an Alaska World Affairs Council luncheon.
Balton says oil and gas development and increased shipping hold opportunity for the United States, but also risks to the environment.
“One obvious risk is a major oil pollution incident, if the event that took place in the gulf of Mexico a few years ago took place is the Chuckchi Sea it would almost certainly be a lot worse,” Balton said.
Lieutenant Governor Mead Treadwell, also attended the event. He says the Arctic Ocean is opening in our lifetimes, which means the state has two priorities due to the state’s strategic position: more jobs for Alaskans with more ports and protecting the marine environment.
“Here you have Alaska, which is pro-development, saying to the Obama administration, which has not been very pro-development around here, that we've got to do a better job on the marine environment when you have these foreign ships passing through by our shores,” said Tredwell.
The Arctic Council is composed of representatives from eight northern nations, including the United States.
To date, the Arctic Nations have agreed to two policies: one strengthening search and rescue capabilities and the other preparing northern nations for oil pollution incidents.
The U.S. will chair the council beginning in 2015.