The US is considering a false choice in the Arctic

By Francisco Sanchez

Business Insider

In March, Total SA confirmed a $27 billion natural gas project in the Russian Arctic.

The project will tap into one of the largest reserves of natural gas in the world and is just the latest example of Russian assertiveness in the region.

From theatrical flag planting, to large-scale military exercises, Russia has shown that it sees the Arctic as important to its future.

Russia is not alone. Norway, Denmark, Canada, and even China have begun to exert their presence in the Arctic.

The European Union in the Arctic

By Duncan Depledge

World Policy Institute

Making sense of the European Union’s interest in the Arctic is far from a straightforward task. In recent years, the complexity of the EU as an entity has too often been brushed aside in favor of stories that generate headlines about their overreaching attempts to influence the Arctic, and its subsequent frustration at being excluded. Such narratives misrepresent both the essential nature of the EU as an actor and the degree to which the EU has been, or indeed can be, excluded from Arctic affairs.

Assessing the U.S. Navy’s Arctic Roadmap

By Andreas Kuersten

Center for International Maritime Security

Shielded by a significant expanse of sea ice, the Arctic Ocean has historically had limited naval strategic relevance outside of submarine and early warning operations. But the process of climate change is increasingly melting away this covering and laying bare previously inaccessible northern waters. As a result, and in concert with the region’s vast natural resource endowments and potential shipping lanes, one of the world’s five oceans and adjacent marine areas are slowly opening to human maritime activity – both in terms of state and private actors. As the military branch responsible for fielding forces “capable of winning wars, deterring aggression and maintaining freedom of the seas,” the United States Navy has understandably turned its attention northward.

CRE Applauds Arctic Council Denying EU Permanent Observer Status, Urges Council to Continue Protecting Arctic States and Indigenous Peoples

In a letter to Secretary Kerry in his capacity as Chairman of the Arctic Council, the Center for Regulatory Effectiveness recommends that the Council continue to oppose permanent observer status to the European Union (EU) until which time it abandons the precautionary principle.

CRE’s letter explains,

  • European Union Countries are Already Represented on the Arctic Council,
  • There are Other Arctic Initiatives in Which the EU and/or its Members are Active, and
  • Indigenous Groups’ Economics Interests Could be Subjugated to Broader International Goals

CRE’s letter also emphasized that,

Parallels drawn between space race and Arctic offshore development

By Mia Bennett

Alaska Dispatch News

The reaction to the U.S. government’s decision to conditionally allow Shell to drill in the Chukchi Sea this summer has been harsh in many media outlets.

U.S. must break the ice … in the Arctic

The Statesman Journal

On a crisp November day 41 years ago, Champagne was cracked over the massive hull of the icebreaker Polar Star on the Seattle waterfront. The ship cranked up its 78,000-horsepower engines and churned off toward the Pacific Ocean. A few days later, it was joined by its sister icebreaker, the Polar Sea, also built at Seattle’s now-closed Lockheed shipyard.

That was the last time the United States built new heavy-class icebreakers. Since then, the government-owned icebreaker fleet has dwindled to just two working vessels, the medium-class Healy, primarily used for research, and the aging Polar Star — both based in Seattle. The Polar Sea is mothballed on the Seattle waterfront, potentially bound for the scrap heap.

The US is right to allow Arctic oil exploration

The world may one day need the crude that Shell might find there

Financial Times

There is nowhere in the world where it is particularly easy to look for oil these days, but the Arctic is often seen as uniquely difficult. Drifting ice, rough seas and the remote location create particular challenges for companies seeking to drill there. An oil spill would be more difficult to clean up in the Arctic than in the Gulf of Mexico.