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March 05, 2015

In Hearing, King Underscores Importance of Arctic to Maine and Nation

Maine Port Authority official testifies before Senate panel on commercial implications for the state

WASHINGTON, D.C. – In a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine) continued to underscore the growing importance of the Arctic to Maine and the United States, and emphasized the need for increased U.S. leadership in the region.

“As the climate changes and the Arctic continues to open, the strategic significance of the region will only grow more important, both for Maine and for the rest of United States,” Senator King said following the hearing. “In essence, what we are seeing before our eyes is the revealing of a new and enormously important ocean resource with respect to energy, security, and commerce. That presents us not only with challenges, but also with opportunities to work collaboratively with nations in the region and to demonstrate how this kind of situation can be peacefully and thoughtfully developed. However, it’s going to take leadership and preparation on the part of the United States, which is why it was so critical to have this hearing today and to establish the Arctic Caucus with Senator Murkowski.”

At the recommendation of Senator King, Patrick Arnold, the Director of Operations and Business Development for the Maine Port Authority, testified before the Committee, speaking to the economic and commercial implications that changes in the Arctic presented for Maine.

“Maine is merely an example of how this nation can lead alongside Alaska in Arctic affairs.  First, opening lines of trade that allow for mutual prosperity, and then building on top of these trade lanes policies and opportunities for cultural and educational exchange that lead to lasting relationships,” Patrick Arnold said in his opening statement. “This will be important given the rapid change in Arctic conditions due to climate change. Regardless of opinions, change is inevitable and what matters is how we adapt to it and mitigate the negative aspects of human contribution to it. We can only improve and prosper more by working together with the people and countries in the Arctic.”

To read Mr. Arnold’s testimony in full, click HERE.

Today’s hearing follows an announcement yesterday from Senator King and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, that they have formed the Senate Arctic Caucus. The mission of the Caucus will be to convene conversations among Members and staff on defense, science, commerce, trade, environment, maritime affairs, the well-being of the people of the North, and other relevant issues in the Arctic region.  Senators King and Murkowski hope to leverage their roles and use the Caucus to recognize the opportunity in an area of the world that has a rich history of collaboration and cooperation, and remains a zone of peace – with the belief that the United States must take a leadership role in guiding international policy decisions relating to the Arctic.

The hearing today – the first to focus on the Arctic – was on the economic and strategic opportunities in the Arctic as the United States prepares to assume the leadership of the international Arctic Council this coming April. In addition to Mr. Arnold, other witnesses at the hearing include Admiral Robert J. Papp, Jr., U.S. Special Representative for the Arctic Region; an Alaska State Senator; an Alaska State Representative; the Mayor of North Slope Borough in Alaska; and a Professor from the College of Environment, School of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Washington.

Aside from Admiral Papp, Mr. Arnold was the only witness from outside of Alaska or Washington, the home states of the committee’s leadership, to testify on Thursday.

Senator King, also a member of the Armed Services Committee, is a strong proponent of advancing U.S. interests in the Arctic. Last year, he visited the region and called for the U.S. to recalibrate its national security and economic strategies to better address the changing environment as well as the challenges and opportunities that come along with it.

Sen. King, Patrick Arnold

Senator King talks with Patrick Arnold, Director of Operations and Business Development for the Maine Port Authority. Mr. Arnold testified before the Committee, speaking to the economic and commercial implications that changes in the Arctic presented for Maine.

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