WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner introduced the United States Ambassador at Large for Arctic Affairs Act of 2017, bipartisan legislation that would establish an Ambassador at Large for Arctic Affairs within the U.S. Department of State. 

The Arctic is an area of geo-economic interest to the United States and surrounding nations, and the growing importance of the Arctic region cannot be understated. In the coming years, the region will provide new possibilities for trade, travel, and energy development. The constant evolution of the region is creating new areas of innovation in mining and minerals, as well as ongoing opportunities for research.

However, U.S. Arctic policy does not have a clear direction because more than 20 agencies conduct work in the Arctic.  The Government Accountability Office has found that these agencies face numerous challenges due to the lack of direction and specific resources for their work. Creating the position of Ambassador at Large for Arctic Affairs would allow the U.S. to better coordinate policy in this region.

Congressman Sensenbrenner pressed the Obama Administration to create this position to coincide with the U.S. Chairmanship of the Arctic Council from May 2015 to May 2017.  However, the previous administration was shortsighted and failed to recognize that U.S. Arctic policy needs to be streamlined and requires someone with a direct line to the President. 

This legislation would amend the State Department Basic Authorities Act of 1956 to establish an Ambassador at Large for Arctic Affairs within the State Department, in order to strengthen the U.S. relationship with the Arctic region and allow the U.S. to better coordinate Arctic policy among government agencies. 

The United States currently sits on the Arctic Council, where six of the eight member nations have already established an Ambassador for Arctic Affairs. Creating this position would allow the U.S. to work closer with the Council in furthering its important work.   

Congressman Sensenbrenner:
 “The time for an unclear and indecisive Arctic policy is over. America must recognize that other countries, including China and Russia, have very serious, and possibly adversarial, Arctic ambitions. Establishing an Ambassador at Large for Arctic Affairs would allow us to decisively address issues that face the region and consequently, the rest of the world. I encourage my colleagues to support this endeavor and the work our nation does on the Arctic Council. Lastly, I wish the Finnish Government great success as they assume the Chairmanship of the Arctic Council. Finland is a great friend and important ally of the U.S., and I look forward to working with them on these issues.”