OPINION: What is the Alaska Arctic Policy Commission?

By Rep. Bob Herron and Sen. Lesil McGuire

The Arctic Sounder

The Alaska Arctic Policy Commission (AAPC) was formed nearly two years ago by the Legislature to create and help implement strategies to benefit all Alaskans as melting sea ice opens up new economic opportunities while creating many urgent challenges. We call this new Arctic paradigm the “emerging Arctic.”

The “emerging Arctic” presents both opportunities and risks and the AAPC is challenged with finding a balance for all Alaskans. The Commission is concerned with the future of the entire state, but also realizes any Arctic policy will have an immediate effect on the people living in the Arctic. Sustainable communities have been at the forefront of all of the AAPC’s work. With that in mind, the Commission established four vision statements to guide development of an Arctic Policy:

1) Value Community Sustainability and Thriving Cultures
2) Advance Economic Development and a Healthy Environment
3) Ensure Public Safety and Security
4) Incorporate Transparency and Inclusion in Decision Making

You can find the Preliminary Report/Executive Summary on our website: www.akarctic.com

Alaskans are the Arctic experts for the U.S. with decades of experience working and living in the region. That’s why Alaska’s Legislature created the 26-member commission to guide plans for responsibly developing the Arctic while working with the federal government to ensure Alaska is at the forefront of the discussion since our state is the only reason the U.S. is an Arctic nation.

For some, the Arctic is an abstract term. Not many people understand how much of our lives depend on this term.

For example, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System (TAPS), which is responsible for much of the economic progress in Alaska today and 90-percent of the State’s general funding, is an Arctic project. The Alaska LNG project, the proposed gasline from the North Slope, is also considered an Arctic project. Offshore drilling, Bering Sea fishing, Nome mining and new shipping routes are all Arctic economic opportunities for Alaskans.

It’s all state revenue that benefits every Alaskan by funding roads, schools, public safety, health programs, infrastructure and more.

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