Arctic Issues Study Group (Completed 2008)

Alaska is facing a number of issues related to the Arctic and its management, including some affecting federal/state relations.   Additionally, some of the Federal and International governmental responses are receiving little Alaskan input to their resolution or even statewide media attention. This study will help Alaskans act proactively to formulate a position on Arctic issues, to make that position heard and to protect Alaska’s interests.

In 2008, several state, national and international events will set the course for Arctic policy in the United States.   These events include major new research focused in the International Polar Year (IPY); a new USGS survey of energy sources across the Arctic; an eight-nation Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment; Senate consideration of the Law of the Sea and efforts by the US and other Arctic nations to extend territory beyond the continental shelf; national/international discussions of climate change and CO2 limits, the level chosen for which may affect Arctic ice cover, energy development, animals, coastline and other things Alaskans hold dear.

  1. Framing the Issues
    • Economic/Sustainability/Infrastructure
    • Environment
      • Climate change- what CO2 limits should be established internationally to help Alaska maintain values it holds dear?
      • Health: bird flu, contaminants, others
    • Geopolitical (Sovereignty/Treaties/Federal- State relations/Security
      • Law of the Sea/claim to new land offshore
      • Arctic shipping
      • Boundaries with Canada and Russia
      • Extent of Alaska’s sovereignty and self-determination; what role does/should the state play in the Northern Forum and Arctic Council?
      • Search and Rescue: with Russia. Expansion of Military and/or Coast Guard
    • Research/Exploration/Education
      • What policy issues are arising from the IPY research, and should Alaska take a position on these policies?
    • Energy/Resources
      • Arctic energy supplies- where is Alaska heading, and how does Alaska’s Arctic energy relate to supplies in the rest of the world Arctic?
  2. Scope of Study:
    This study will identify present and emerging issues in the above areas, and possible recommendations relating to the issues, with the following steps:

    • Review previous Commonwealth North study efforts related to the study topics, particularly State/Federal relations.
    • Incorporate input from other interested civic, educational, and business groups
    • Solicit input on the various study topics from experts residing in Alaska, D.C., or other parts of the Arctic.  Local experts to speak directly to study group and/or the CWN membership, and outside experts speaking through telephonic and video connections to the study group.
    • Evaluate the effectiveness of current policies relating to the study topics.
    • Develop recommendations for State positions on the various policies emanating from the study group research.
  3. Nature of report to be issued:
    This report will frame the present and emerging Arctic issues and policies currently affecting the State. It will suggest guiding principles for approaching any of these Arctic policies.  It will provide recommendations and the rationale for any recommendations relating to Arctic policies.  The report will address the process of reaching out to the State and the public to continue the discussions raised in the report.