February 08, 2021
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), co-chair of the Senate Arctic Caucus, participated in a video conference with nearly 60 students at Edward Little High School in Auburn and others connecting statewide to discuss Maine’s strategic importance in U.S./Arctic relations and answer questions about his work on the topic in the Senate. Over the past semester, the students have been studying “Geopolitics of the Arctic” as they relate to U.S. national security, economic opportunity, and environmental stewardship.
“Right now, changes in the Arctic are presenting Maine with great challenges and new opportunities,” said Senator King. “The risks are severe, and unfolding before our eyes – the effects of climate change can lead to rising sea levels, endangered coastal communities, and destroyed ecosystems. It is critical that America take every available step to confront this global crisis and protect our planet for the next generation. At the same time, changes that have already occurred in the Arctic create new economic possibilities for trade, as well as heightened national security threats that can be exploited by our adversaries. With so much at stake, it is critical that the next generation of leaders understands the complexity of the challenges we face. I left today’s conversation impressed by the depth of knowledge and interest from these Maine students; I’m confident that our state and our nation will benefit greatly from their contributions for decades to come.”
As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and Co-Chair of the U.S. Senate Arctic Caucus, Senator King is an advocate for Maine’s interests in the North Atlantic and Arctic region. He has worked in Washington to advance Maine’s leadership in the High North. In a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing this week, Senator King showcased three charts to emphasize the stakes of climate change, which exhibited the rise of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere over 800,000 years, the rise in sea level over a 24,000 year period, and the drastic decline of Arctic sea ice in the past 40 years. He shared a few of these charts with the students in today’s teleconference. In January, Senator King applauded the U.S. Navy’s recently-released Strategic Blueprint for the Arctic – the publication represents a forward-thinking approach to achieving U.S. priorities in the Arctic, and stresses Maine’s critical strategic importance in the region.
Last year, Senator King pressed top military officials on their intentions in the Arctic and the danger of potential collaboration between China and Russia, and inquired about their plans to ensure that the U.S. keeps up with Russia and China’s hypersonic weapon capabilities. In 2019, Senator King introduced the Arctic Naval Focus Act of 2019 with Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), a bill that would direct the federal government to recognize the importance of the Arctic region to the United States’ national and economic security interests. He also invited Senator Sullivan on his monthly Inside Maine podcast to discuss U.S. military challenges and opportunities in the Arctic. In October 2016, Senator King joined Maine people and leaders from around the globe to attend the Arctic Council conference at the University of Southern Maine’s Portland Campus. He also visited Greenland on a 2015 fact-finding mission that focused on examining the environmental and security implications of the warming Arctic climate and traveled to Iqaluit, Canada to help usher in the United States’ chairmanship of the Arctic Council.