Maine’s Sen. King co-creates Arctic Caucus

The partnership with an Alaska Republican signals that Maine wants to shape policy for the far north.

By Tom Bell

Central Maine News

Sen. Angus King is partnering with Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska to influence U.S. policies on Arctic issues.

King, an independent, and Murkowski, a Republican, on Wednesday announced the creation of an “Arctic Caucus” in the Senate. Both senators believe the United States should be a leader in guiding international policy decisions that affect the Arctic.

The effort comes as the United States prepares to assume the chairmanship of the Arctic Council in April. The council is an intergovernmental forum that addresses issues faced by indigenous people of the Arctic and the eight member countries: Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the United States.

The King-Murkowski partnership signals that Maine for the first time wants to play a role in shaping U.S. policy on Arctic issues. Historically, only Alaska has shown much interest in the Arctic, but Maine is now positioning itself as a gateway to the region. Two years ago, an Icelandic steamship line, Eimskip, which serves Iceland, Greenland and the Arctic regions of northern Europe, made Portland its North American headquarters and only port of call in the United States.

The state has since created the Maine North Atlantic Development Office to develop trade and investment between Maine and North Atlantic markets. The Maine National Guard has worked with Alaska to create an Arctic Interest Working Group. Last fall, the Bangor-based 101st Air Wing of the Maine Air National Guard tested advanced communications equipment while flying with the Canadian Air Force near Goose Bay, Labrador.

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