March 04, 2015
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Angus King (I-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) today announced they are forming the United States Senate Arctic Caucus in order to spotlight this region and open up a wider conversation about the nation’s future in the region as America prepares to accede to the Chair of the Arctic Council.
“As the climate changes and Arctic continues to open, the strategic significance of the region will only grow more important,” said Senator King, a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “That presents us with an extraordinary opportunity to work collaboratively with other nations, but it’s going to take leadership and preparation on the part of the United States. The creation of the Arctic Caucus is the first step in raising the profile of the issue in Congress, and I look forward to partnering with Senator Murkowski on this important work.”
“The United States is an Arctic Nation because of Alaska, but the Arctic community is an economic partner to each and every state, and the sooner we fully engage and take our rightful seat at the table for discussions, the better,” said Senator Murkowski, Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “There are new possibilities and opportunities emerging in the Arctic, and the eyes of the world are the United States whether we will demonstrate leadership and vision there, as nations as varied as Italy and India and Iceland all make major investments in the region. We cannot afford to miss out on the opportunities the Arctic presents to us.”
The Arctic Caucus’s mission 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.
Senator King is a strong proponent of advancing U.S. leadership and 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.
Earlier today, Senator King, who is also a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Climate Action Task Force, spoke at a public policy forum entitled “Predicting and Preparing for a Changing Arctic” hosted by the Consortium for Ocean Leadership where continued his push to draw greater attention to the Arctic, its strategic importance to the United States, and the need for increased U.S. leadership in the region.
In addition, tomorrow, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee will hold its first hearing on the Arctic. At the recommendation of Senator King, Patrick Arnold – the Director of Operations and Business Development for the Maine Port Authority – will testify during the hearing. In a letter to committee leaders last week, Senator King outlined several priorities he hopes the committee will consider in the hearing, particularly as the United States prepares to assume the chairmanship of the Arctic Council this April.