Congressmen Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) today reintroduced legislation to amend the State Department Basic Authorities Act of 1956 to establish a United States Ambassador at Large for Arctic Affairs. Currently, 20 government agencies are handling Arctic policy. Under this legislation, an Ambassador would be charged with all coordination and serve as Chair of the Arctic Council when the U.S. assumes Chairmanship of the Arctic Council in April.
Congressman Sensenbrenner: “An ambassador-level position is necessary to show the U.S. is serious about being an Arctic nation. Russia continues to make claims and China is increasing its Arctic presence. The U.S. should coordinate its Arctic policy to protect our commercial interests and domestic energy supply at the highest level.”
Congressman Larsen: “Our country faces a steep opportunity curve when it comes to the Arctic as we prepare to take over the chairmanship of the Arctic Council. We have a lot of work ahead of us, from protecting the unique Arctic environment and the people and animals who live there, to improving our emergency response ability when ships get into trouble. Coordinating the many federal stakeholders working on Arctic issues is imperative to our success as an Arctic nation. That is why I support an ambassador-level position to better manage our many interests in the Arctic and to signal our country’s commitment to international cooperation on Arctic policy.”
The GAO reported last year that the U.S. needs a better strategy to coordinate and prioritize its policies related to the Arctic region.