Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 370

Commentary The U.S. Must Live Up to Commitments as Arctic Nation Rep. Rick Larsen Interest in the Arctic is heating up around the world. As the region’s ice melts and it becomes more accessible to shipping traffic, Arctic nations like Russia and Canada are continuing to invest in infrastructure and research. Countries without Arctic borders, including China and Japan, also are expressing their interest in the region. China, for example, is currently building its second icebreaker. It is clear that other countries are moving forward in the High North. But the U.S. is not keeping pace. Even as the U.S. took over the chairmanship of the Arctic Council in April 2015, we do not have the infrastructure that is necessary to live up to our responsibilities as an Arctic nation. President Obama’s GLACIER conference in August 2015 is a sign that attention to the Arctic is growing, but that attention must come with investment to be effective. I am hopeful that during the U.S. chairmanship of the Council we will make progress on the strong priorities the U.S. State Department has defined. These include protecting the unique Arctic environment and the people and animals who live there, as well as improving our emergency response ability when ships get into trouble. But the U.S. faces a steep opportunity curve when it comes to the Arctic, and we need to do more to fulfill our commitments. While most of my colleagues in Congress recognize that the U.S. has responsibilities as an Atlantic and Pacific nation, not everyone recognizes that we are also an Arctic Congressman Rick Larsen represents Washington state’s Second District. He is a senior member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the House Armed Services Committee.