Comment on IARPC 5-Year Arctic Research Plan

The Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC), which is chaired by the National Science Foundation, seeks public input on the content and organization of the next 5- year Arctic Research Plan: 2022–2026.  Written comments must be submitted no later than July 2, 2020.

Court Amends Scheduling Order in Alaska Oil and Gas Seismic Cook Inlet Case to Accommodate Likely New ESA Citizen Suit Claim involving Consultation for Beluga Whale

On February 15, 2020, the parties filed a stipulated motion to revise the court’s scheduling order in the case Cook Inlet v. Ross (District Alaska).

Cook Inletkeeper and Center for Biological Diversity have sued Federal Defendants Wilbur Ross and James Balsiger, in their official capacities, and the National Marine Fisheries Service (“NMFS”) in Alaska federal district court. Hilcorp Alaska, LLC and the State of Alaska have intervened in the case, which currently involves the plaintiffs’ challenge to an oil and gas seismic take permit for Cook Inlet, Alaska, that NMFS issued under the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act.  The Plaintiffs claim risk to Cook Inlet beluga whales.

Government Files Voluminous Record in Alaska Oil and Gas Seismic Case

The Cook Inletkeeper and Center for Biological Diversity have sued th U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service and its parent agency Department of Commerce.  Their suit is filed in the United District Court for the District of Alaska. They are challenging a regulation that permits the oil and gas company Hilcorp Alaska LLC to “take” marine mammals incidental to oil and gas exploration and development activities in Cook Inlet, Alaska, including 2-dimensional (2D) and 3-dimensional (3D) seismic airgun blasting. The term “take” has the definition in, and the regulation is issued under, the U.S. Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Podcast: China as a ‘near-Arctic’ state

From: ChinaDialog/Ocean

Episode two of China’s Polar Frontiers by Sustainable Asia looks at how climate change is opening up new opportunities in the frozen north

Is This the End of the Arctic Council and Arctic Governance as We Know It?

From: High North News

Those of us who deeply care about the Arctic Council and the future of the Arctic should be aware of what is happening and should do our utmost to speak for the values the Arctic Council represents, urges Timo Koivurova, former advisor to the Finnish Chairmanship of the Arctic Council.

In the Arctic, climate change and hopeful signs

From: University at Buffalo Now

Global climate change is transforming the world’s ecosystems, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the Arctic region, say three UB faculty members, editors of a wide-ranging new book on the subject.

“Some have come to view the Arctic as the earth’s ‘environmental canary,’” write the editors of “The Big Thaw: Policy, Governance, and Climate Change in the Circumpolar North” (SUNY Press). “In days gone by, when a caged canary taken into mines stopped singing, coal miners knew that the carbon monoxide gas level was so high that they had to escape the chamber. The thawing Arctic may be the earth’s early warning system.”

Russia opens Siberian pipeline to China as Beijing expands its influence in the Arctic

From: CNBC

  • The pipeline comes after China unveiled a plan nearly two years ago called the “Polar Silk Road,” expanding its campaign for influence to the Arctic.
  • The resource-rich region is at the heart of the geopolitical battle and struggle for influence.
  • As Moscow’s relationship with Western countries becomes more frail, Russian business leaders look for more economic opportunities with China, especially in energy.

Grace Shao

A new natural gas pipeline connecting Russia and China is the latest example of increasing collaboration between Moscow and Beijing in the Arctic Circle.

Iceland begins its Arctic Council chairmanship with a focus on observers

From: Nunatsiaq News

The current chair says the ‘meaningful engagement’ of the Arctic Council’s 39 observers is an asset to the region

By Kevin McGwin/Arctic Today

Iceland is seeking to leverage growing interest in the Arctic to improve the living conditions in the region through greater involvement of the organization’s observers.

“There is general agreement that observers should have some kind of meaningful engagement. The trick is how to do that. Iceland,” said Einar Gunnarsson, an Icelandic diplomat currently responsible for directing the work of the Arctic Council. “Iceland is focused on the council’s engagement with observers. But we are talking about two-way engagement.”

Is the Arctic Council a Paper Polar Bear?Podcast: China as a ‘near-Arctic’ state

From: High North News

With more meetings and reports of meetings, is the poster child of Arctic governance overrated? Has the Arctic Council become a paper polar bear – outwardly powerful, but inwardly ineffectual?

Last week, more than 120 Arctic experts and politicians gathered in the small town of Hveragerði in Southern Iceland for the first SAO plenary meeting since the Arctic Council’s passed from Finland to Iceland earlier this year in Rovaniemi.

Arctic Offshore Oil and Gas Regulatory Resource

The Protection of Arctic Marine Environment working Group, or PAME, is one of six Arctic Council working groups.  PAME describes itself as “the focal point of the Arctic Council’s activities related to the protection and sustainable use of the Arctic marine environment and provides a unique forum for collaboration on a wide range of activities in this regard.”

PAME maintains an Arctic Offshore Oil and Gas Regulatory Resource, which goes by the acronym AOOGRR.  The AOOGRR website explains that it is

“A Legal Regime Web-Based Information Resource