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28th Legislature(2013-2014)

Bill Text 28th Legislature


00 Enrolled SJR 10                                                                                                         
01 Relating to the presence and interests of the state and the nation in the Arctic; appreciating the                      
02 United States' ongoing offer to include a representative of the state on the Arctic Council;                            
03 relating to icebreakers; and relating to United States Coast Guard operations and facilities in                         
04 the Arctic.                                                                                                             
05                                          _______________                                                                
06 BE IT RESOLVED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF ALASKA:                                                             
07           WHEREAS this state alone qualifies the United States as an Arctic nation; and                               
08      WHEREAS, according to the United States Geological Survey, the Arctic may hold                                   
09 up to 90,000,000,000 barrels of oil, the equivalent of 13 percent of the world's undiscovered                           
10 oil reserves, and 47.3 trillion cubic meters of natural gas, the equivalent of 30 percent of the                        
11 world's undiscovered natural gas reserves, and the development of these resources would have                            
12 a profound economic effect on the state and promote energy security for the nation; and                                 
13      WHEREAS the amount of Arctic Ocean ice during the summer months has                                              
14 increasingly diminished, resulting in the opening of international shipping lanes through the                           
15 Arctic; and                                                                                                             
16      WHEREAS the Northwest Passage along North America and the Northern Sea Route                                     
01 along Eurasia both pass through the Bering Strait and decrease shipping time and costs                                  
02 between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans compared to traveling conventional routes through                               
03 the Suez Canal or Panama Canal; and                                                                                     
04      WHEREAS growing interest in economic and strategic opportunities in the Arctic has                               
05 led the Russian Federation to announce its interests in the region and, in August 2007, to plant                        
06 a Russian flag on the Arctic Ocean seabed and resume strategic bomber flights over the Arctic                           
07 region for the first time since the end of the Cold War; and                                                            
08      WHEREAS Russia has submitted a claim to the United Nations Convention on the                                     
09 Law of the Sea to an area of 460,000 square miles in the Arctic Ocean, an area the size of                              
10 Germany, France, and Italy combined; and                                                                                
11      WHEREAS the United States Coast Guard does not have a base on or adjacent to the                                 
12 Arctic Ocean, inhibiting the nation's ability to respond to situations that could threaten United                       
13 States sovereignty in the Arctic and reducing the nation's emergency and disaster                                       
14 preparedness in the area; and                                                                                           
15      WHEREAS increasing interest in the Arctic as a result of emerging geopolitical and                               
16 economic factors has created a national priority for the United States to map the Arctic floor,                         
17 which is essential to establish legitimate claims to areas beyond the 200 nautical mile                                 
18 exclusive economic zone and best assert the nation's rights in the international community;                             
19 and                                                                                                                     
20      WHEREAS, as the use of international shipping lanes through the Arctic Ocean                                     
21 becomes possible, the demand for icebreaker vessels is increasing; and                                                  
22      WHEREAS Canada currently has six icebreaker vessels, with a plan to complete a                                   
23 seventh, the 459-foot John G. Diefenbaker, in 2017; and                                                                 
24      WHEREAS the Russian icebreaker fleet is the largest in the world, with 36 vessels,                               
25 including 17 government-operated icebreakers and six nuclear-powered icebreakers with at                                
26 least 45,000 brake horsepower; and                                                                                      
27      WHEREAS a seventh nuclear-powered Russian icebreaker is currently under                                          
28 construction, and three more nuclear-powered icebreakers are planned for completion by                                  
29 2017; and                                                                                                               
30      WHEREAS the most powerful icebreaker in the world, the Russian nuclear-powered                                   
31 Years of Victory, commissioned in 2007, is 524 feet long, has 75,000 horsepower, and can                                
01 break ice up to 9.2 feet thick; and                                                                                     
02      WHEREAS the United States has five icebreakers, only three of which are United                                   
03 States Coast Guard vessels; and                                                                                         
04      WHEREAS only one of the United States Coast Guard icebreakers, the USCGC                                         
05 Healy, which has 30,000 horsepower and was designed primarily for research purposes, is                                 
06 presently in service; and                                                                                               
07      WHEREAS, of the two other United States Coast Guard icebreakers, the USCGC                                     
08 Polar Star and the USCGC Polar Sea, constructed in 1976 and 1977, the USCGC Polar Sea is                                
09 unlikely to return to service and the USCGC Polar Star is not anticipated to return to service                          
10 until late 2013 at the earliest; and                                                                                    
11      WHEREAS the Arctic Council is a high-level forum of Arctic states, is the only                                   
12 circumpolar forum that includes all of the Arctic states, and includes participation of Arctic                          
13 indigenous peoples for the purpose of holding political discussions on Arctic issues shared in                          
14 common and fostering Arctic cooperation; and                                                                            
15      WHEREAS the Arctic Council includes official state representatives from the                                      
16 governments of Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, the Russian Federation,                                       
17 Sweden, and the United States; and                                                                                      
18      WHEREAS the chairmanship of the Arctic Council rotates every two years, and,                                     
19 following the chairmanship of Canada beginning in May 2013, the United States will assume                               
20 chairmanship of the Arctic Council in May 2015; and                                                                   
21      WHEREAS the United States has a presence on the Arctic Council only because of                                   
22 Alaska's location in the Arctic; and                                                                                    
23      WHEREAS, in 2011, in the spirit of cooperation between the Arctic states, and                                    
24 cognizant of the harsh conditions that pose a challenge to search and rescue operations in the                          
25 Arctic and the vital importance of providing rapid assistance to persons in distress in those                           
26 circumstances, the Arctic Council signed the council's first legally binding agreement in                               
27 Nuuk, Greenland, to coordinate search and rescue operations in the Arctic Ocean; and                                    
28      WHEREAS the official state delegation of Canada to the Arctic Council includes                                   
29 representatives from the governments of the territories of Yukon and Nunavut; and                                       
30      WHEREAS the official United States delegation to the Arctic Council does not                                     
31 include any officially appointed representative from Alaska; and                                                        
01      WHEREAS the interests of the state are directly affected by Arctic policy;                                       
02      BE IT RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature, recognizing the importance of                                  
03 diplomatic opportunities and the particular effect of Arctic policy on the state's interests,                           
04 appreciates the United States' ongoing offer since the inception of the Arctic Council to                               
05 include a designated representative from this state as a member of its official delegation to the                       
06 Arctic Council; and be it                                                                                               
07      FURTHER RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature urges the United States                                       
08 Congress and the President of the United States to provide the United States Coast Guard with                           
09 sufficient funding to expand its Arctic operations, to retrofit the nation's existing icebreaker                        
10 fleet, to build needed vessels and facilities, including icebreakers and a United States Coast                          
11 Guard base for Arctic operations, to map the United States outer continental shelf for the                              
12 purpose of preserving and defending the nation's sovereign territorial rights, and to maintain a                        
13 strong presence in the region; and be it                                                                                
14      FURTHER RESOLVED that the Alaska State Legislature urges the United States to                                    
15 continue to assert its political, strategic, environmental, and economic interests in the Arctic,                       
16 with particular emphasis on the well-being of the state, and to take a leadership role in guiding                       
17 international Arctic policy through diplomatic, military, and economic means.                                           
18      COPIES of this resolution shall be sent to the Honorable Barack Obama, President of                              
19 the United States; the Honorable Joseph R. Biden, Jr., Vice-President of the United States and                          
20 President of the U.S. Senate; the Honorable John F. Kerry, United States Secretary of State;                            
21 General Martin E. Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; the Honorable Janet A.                                
22 Napolitano, United States Secretary of Homeland Security; the Honorable Robert Menendez,                                
23 Chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations; the Honorable Michael T. McCaul,                               
24 Chair of the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security; the Honorable Thomas R. Carper,                                 
25 Chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs; the                                   
26 Honorable Barbara Mikulski, Chair of the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations; the                                   
27 Honorable Dave Camp, Chair of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee; the Honorable                                    
28 Bob Corker, ranking member, U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations; Admiral Robert                                  
29 J. Papp, Jr., Commandant of the United States Coast Guard; and the Honorable Lisa                                       
30 Murkowski and the Honorable Mark Begich, U.S. Senators, and the Honorable Don Young,                                    
31 U.S. Representative, members of the Alaska delegation in Congress; and all other members of                             
01 the United States Senate.                                                                                               
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