Larsen: U.S. Must Seize Arctic Opportunities As We Lead Arctic Council

Apr 24, 2015

WASHINGTON—As the U.S. takes over the chairmanship of the Arctic Council today, Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, issued the following statement reiterating the importance of the U.S. upholding its commitments as an Arctic nation.

“Our country faces a steep opportunity curve when it comes to the Arctic as we take over the chairmanship of the Arctic Council. We have a lot of work ahead of us, from protecting the unique Arctic environment and the people and animals who live there, to improving our emergency response ability when ships get into trouble.

“The U.S. needs to suit up to play the long game in the Arctic to protect our environmental, economic and strategic interests. I am hopeful that during the U.S. chairmanship of the Council, we will make progress on the strong priorities the State Department has defined, and that we will move the Arctic up our national priority list.

“I am working on several initiatives to bring more attention to a part of the world that might be out of sight, out of mind for many, but is part of the everyday economy in the Pacific Northwest. Our ports are often the winter home for maintenance and repair on fishing boats and other vessels that operate in the Alaskan Arctic during the warmer months.

“Even as the Administration has taken actions to better streamline and coordinate our country’s Arctic efforts, I support an ambassador-level position to better manage our many interests in the Arctic and to signal our country’s commitment to international cooperation on Arctic policy.

“Our country does not have the icebreaking capability it needs to meet our Arctic responsibilities. As the Arctic increasingly opens up to more shipping traffic, our icebreaker fleet will become even more important to protect American commerce and our national security. I will continue to push for needed investments in our icebreaker fleet.

“I also started the Congressional Arctic Working Group with Mr. Young from Alaska to help raise awareness about the importance of the Arctic. I appreciate this partnership and hope the Working Group will be a resource for my colleagues during our country’s time leading the Arctic Council,” Larsen said.