RICHARD N. HAASS (president, Council on Foreign Relations): We're very excited today here at the Council on Foreign Relations, not because of what is happening five or six miles to our south but we're very excited because of what is happening here. The fact that so many of you have shown up for this shows, I think, the real concern and the real interest in issues dealing with Arctic. We've got the gentleman here who I think has the perfect background having spent a decade or so in the Coast Guard as well now here at the (visioning ?) at the Council. What he gives us is a hands-on as well as academic experience with this set of issues. So let me say this is part of something much larger.
The biggest single intellectual project we have going on at the Council now is looking at what is going on around the world and the gap between global -- regional and global challenges on one hand and regional and global arrangements on the other, and this is going to be probably one of the largest projects ever done in the history of this organization where we're going to look at virtually every facet of regional and global relations in the economic realm, the legal realm, the security realm, diplomatic realm, what have you, and try to look at where we need new international arrangements (be from scratch ?) or where we need to adapt -- (inaudible). And some of them obviously involve the sort of issues we're looking at here today -- questions of the Arctic, questions of climate change, questions of water, questions of resources, passage, what have you, tied up obviously with (diplomacy ?) but it's also tied up with (much else ?).
So we're very excited about this. I'm particularly excited to have the senator with us and we openly want to speak truth to power here and we want to be policy relevant in what we do there's few better ways than having one of the Gang of 100 here with us, and so we look forward to collaborating, as I said, to being a resource. It's also an important day in another way. In case you've been living under a rock, Alaska has been somewhat in the news of late but the real reason that Alaska is in the news is because of Alaska House, and everything -- (laughter) -- and real reason is Alaska House. Tonight, there is what, the opening reception?
MS. : Correct.
HAASS: And we hope to see as many of you as possible there. If you can get past the crowd of people in front of Lehman you should be able to make it, and it's really part of a much larger effort to raise issues, again, relating to Alaska, relating to the Arctic and so forth, to raise the visibility and the relevance of those issues that are important to us here in this organization, and thanks to the work of Scott and others we think they -- we can connect onto the broader policy community.
Alas, I've got to go deal with some of the financial issues resulting from today, one of the -- I run what's called an intentional nonprofit institution and we have to sometimes deal with the unintentional so that is what we're doing here today. But again, I -- (inaudible) -- to watch this. Sir, it is in your capable hands. You know your ships.
SCOTT G. BORGERSON: Thank you.
HAASS: Thank you all.
BORGERSON: Thank you. So I thank everyone for coming today. I must admit I'm a bit overwhelmed by today's attendance. This is truly extraordinary. When we began thinking about the idea of a strategic ocean governance round table I think we were hoping (just to lay ?) a round table and we've now graduated to a big square table in the largest room in the building. So thank you, everyone's interest in coming today.
This is meant to be a working lunch, not just a speech from the center but one in which perhaps the center might get some current thoughts and ideas on the Arctic and United States and, of course, Alaska fits squarely in that discussion. But also I'd like to introduce the idea of the round table series as well. As our president Richard Haass just mentioned, this is part of the broader program for International Institutions and Global Governance, which is generously funded by the Robena Grant (ph), and it's looking at not just the oceans but lots of areas of international relations that are complex issues that might require novel thinking about international institutions and multilateral diplomacy to wrestle with the challenges that the U.S. will face in its foreign policy (a 21st century ?).
Of course, nothing is more international and global than the oceans and so the oceans sit within that framework and will be one theme of many that the program will be looking at throughout the year, and the Arctic is one piece of the broader oceans' issues and, of course, one in which you have many issues of overlapping state sovereignty and jurisdiction, climate change, ocean health, national security, classic geopolitics and so forth, and so it's the first big kickoff (our year ?) and I must admit it was cooked up by Alice and I this summer, casually thinking about how this might --
MS. : A dozen people.
BORGERSON: -- might work -- about a dozen people and we actually had to cap the interest on this and I received a tremendous amount of e-mails from others who wanted to come so perhaps there'll be future programming looking at the Arctic as it relates to U.S. foreign policy. So we have several here who are not Council members but are -- who traveled all the way from Alaska for this meeting and bring an incredible wealth of expertise and personal life experience that relates to this issue. And so I think before proceeding perhaps with the discussion maybe we could just very informally but quickly go around the room and if you could mention perhaps where you're from and your interest in the Arctic or ocean governance and how you find yourself here today. So --
MS. : So start with the senator.
BORGERSON: Well, I'll formally introduce her.
MS. : -- for nothing.
BORGERSON: I'll formally introduce the senator later on so maybe we could get -- (inaudible).
MR. : My name is Arnie -- (inaudible). I'm from Petersburg, Alaska. I'm a commercial fisherman and I now do natural resource transformation histories and Arctic issues for the senator.
MEAD TREADWELL: My name is Mead Treadwell. I chair the U.S. Arctic Research Commission which is a commission appointed by the president of seven to advise on the structure, the -- and the leadership and goals of the $400 million a year U.S. Arctic research program. Our commission is also providing the staff work and the chairmanship of the Arctic Marine Shipping Assessment, which is an Arctic council process of eight Arctic nations to take a look at what needs to -- what's happening in the Arctic on shipping and what needs to happen.
MICHAEL BROOMIS (PH): I'm Michael Broomis (ph) and I'm on Senator Murkowski's staff.
JOEL COHEN: My name is Joel Cohen. I'm a professor of populations at Rockefeller University and Columbia University in New York City, and I've had the privilege of hiking in Alaska, rafting on the North Slope of the Brooks Range all the way into the Arctic, and exploring some of the fantastic landscape that we're privileged -- (inaudible).
JOHN BRADEMAS: I'm John Brademas. I was a member of Congress for 22 years from South Bend, Indiana, home of the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame who just beat Michigan. (Laughter.) I'm the author of the Environmental Education Act of I think 1970, which has sort of disappeared under the present administration, and then I became president of New York University in 1981. Now I'm President Emeritus. Now, I yield back the balance of my time. (Laughter.)
GERALD POLLACK: I'm Gerald Pollack. I'm an international economist. My background is that I worked in the oil industry for Exxon Corporation before its merger with Mobil, and I've worked in the federal government both on the legislative side and in the executive branch.
MONICA MEDINA: I'm Monica Medina. I'm an attorney with the Pew Environment Group of the Pew Charitable Trust and my interest in these issues goes back to my time as the general counsel of NOAA, where we worked hard on a lot of sea and various other marine conservation issues.
SHERRIE GOODMAN: Sherrie Goodman, general counsel at CNA, also Center for Naval Analysis. We conduct national security analysis and solutions. We did a project on national security and the threat of climate change, which I ran last year which we had the privilege of testifying before Senator Murkowski and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. I formerly served as deputy under secretary of defense for environmental security.
MICHAEL LEVI: My name is Michael Levi. I'm a senior fellow here at the Council where I focus on among other things energy and climate issues, and I was just up in Alaska and in the Arctic a few weeks ago together with Scott and it's quite nice to see a few people who I met up there now here.
MIKE CICIANI (PH): My name is Mike Ciciani (ph), member of the Council and in the shipping business.
BYRON MALLOTT (PH): Byron Mallott (ph), a native Alaskan, born and raised in Village Alaska where I currently live. I'm a director of the Institute of the North and a trustee and senior fellow with the First Alaskans Institute.
RICHARD GLENN: My name is Richard Glenn and I live in Barrow, Alaska -- lucky enough to host a few of these guys here in my town a few weeks ago. I work for Arctic Slope Regional Corporation. I'm also president of our local nonprofit -- intentionally nonprofit science consortium called the Barrow Arctic Science Consortium whose goal is to put together local experts with visiting researchers and there's (a bloom ?) of visiting researchers every year studying global climate change. Trained as a geologist, studied permafrost, oil and gas, minerals, sea ice, and we live on the sea ice every year and every year the Arctic melts, believe it or not. Just now lately it melts a little bit more than it used to.
KEN DAMON (PH): My name is Ken Damon (ph). I work in a -- as a TV producer here in New York -- (inaudible). For the past seven years we've spent a tremendous amount of time covering climate change and global warming and I'm very curious as all of us are to hear what ideas of this are going to come from the state of Alaska.
BRIAN DONEGAN: I'm Brian Donegan. I'm the Navy fellow here at the Council and I'm a service warfare operator -- operate ships for the Navy and, of course, interested in everything that has to do with maritime environment.
DONOVAN HOHN: I'm Donovan Hohn. I'm a contributing editor for Harper's Magazine and I write for Harper's -- (inaudible) -- Magazine outside. I'm working on a book right now -- (inaudible) -- has taken me to the coast of Alaska and recently on a -- there was a scientific cruise into the Canadian Arctic through the Northwest Passage this summer.
JESSE AUSUBEL: I'm Jesse Ausubel, an environmental scientist, (deeply ?) involved in the Census of Marine Life Research Program which is very active in the Arctic as well as the Bering Sea and the Gulf of Alaska, and I've been a guest at your Barrow center.
LISA SPEARE (PH): My name is Lisa Speare (ph). I'm with the Natural Resources Defense Council here in New York. My boss, Frances Beinecke, is on the Aspen Arctic Commission. My work focuses on international oceans and fisheries governance, which includes the Arctic.
ANDREW HEANEY: Andrew Heaney. I'm the president of the Heaney Energy Corporation. We run the largest heating oil cooperative in the United States and I represent the interests of over 80,000 heating oil consumers in the Northeast.
MARK LEVINSON: My name is Mark Levinson. I'm an economist at JP Morgan Chase here in New York and I also do a lot of our securities research related to environmental issues. On the side, I'm the author of a book called "The Box" which deals with the economic impact of containerization.
BOB FLYNN: My name is Bob Flynn. I'm a guest of Scott's. I'm a former Coast Guard officer, a little bit young -- a little bit older than Scott. Currently, I'm a ship broker and I'm quite interested in the need for offshore development of Alaska and on also the need for icebreaking services in northern -- in offshore Alaska. Thank you.
DALE COLLINS: I'm Dale Collins. I'm a partner at Shearman & Sterling and a member of the Council. Actually, I'm an anti-trust lawyer so I'm pretty much just a hanger-on this very interesting topic.
JOHN TEMPLE SWING: My name is John Temple Swing. I'm a president emeritus of the Foreign Policy Association. My interest in this topic is that I spent eight years negotiating the Law of the Sea Treaty working with Elliot Richardson and, of course, in that process covered Arctic issues which have been a keen interest of mine ever since.
EVAN BLOOM: My name is Evan Bloom. I am deputy director for Oceans Affairs at the State Department. I probably spend more than half my time on Arctic and Antarctic matters and I supervise our representation to the Arctic Council -- (inaudible).
DAVID ROCKEFELLER, JR.: I'm David Rockefeller, Jr. I'm a member of the Council. I sat on the Pew Oceans Commission. I'm a former board member of the Alaska Conservation Foundation. I have sailed 3,000 miles of the Gulf of Alaska, luckily safely and beautifully, and I founded something called Sailors for the Sea -- includes Navy sailors as well as small boat sailors and more about that maybe another time. Good to be here.
SYDNEY FERGUSON: Sydney Ferguson. I'm president of Lockhart Strategies International and Energy and Environmental -- (inaudible) -- in Washington. I sit on the board of the Wild Salmon Center out of Portland working on preserving salmon in the Pacific Rim -- a visitor to Alaska for over 30 years and working with Alice on this great project.
DAVID ABRAHAM: I'm David Abraham. I used to work with the Office of Management and Budget in D.C. on natural resource issues, and I now at the moment work at Lehman Brothers. (Laughter.)
MS. : Today.
MS. : Do you need a back massage? (Laughter.)
ABRAHAM: I'll be passing around a hat. But other than that I'm okay, thanks.
ROBERT WHITE (PH): My name is Robert White (ph). I'm a (principal ?) from (line LLC ?) which is a consultancy focused on the maritime sector. We've done some work looking at what Arctic navigation may mean for various ports around the world on various -- (inaudible).
VERONICA SLAJER: I'm Veronica Slajer. Serve on the board of the Nature Conservancy in Alaska, trustee, and also serve on the Alaska Native Arts Foundation which is a sister organization to the organization opening the Alaska House this afternoon, and but I live in Washington, D.C., and I'm also a consultant on Alaska issues and representing communities.
PETER LARSON: I'm Peter Larson. I'm a natural resource economist and I direct the climate change program for the Nature Conservancy in Alaska.
LAURIE GARRETT: I'm Laurie Garrett. I'm a senior fellow for global health here at the Council which is another area of (transnational threats ?) lacking in sufficient global governance, and 28 years ago maybe it is -- yikes -- when I was working for National Public Radio I was part of this -- Alaska was part of my beat. I spent a good deal of time, Richard, doing stories about the deteriorating permafrost.
BARBARA OVERSTREET: And I'm Barbara Overstreet and I am one of the founding members of the Alaska Native Arts Foundation and a board member of Alaska House. I look forward to seeing you all at Alaska House -- (inaudible).
ED KOCHS: I'm Ed Kochs. I'm a corporate and finance lawyer here in New York and despite a Blackberry jammed with messages of interest about Lehman Brothers and others I'm here because of my other interest which is I'm chairman of the New York League of Conservation Voters Education Fund and I'm also chairman of John McCain's campaign in New York State.
ALICE ROGOTH (PH): And I'm Alice Rogoth (ph). I'm going to be very brief but first of all, thank you, Scott, immensely for having written a brilliant article that was in Foreign Affairs. I'm sure everyone here has read it. I was so delighted to see that someone with your background was so focused on the long-term implications of the challenges in the melting sea ice that when I came to meet Scott, Scott said something to me that I've kind of remembered in shorthand terms as the way I conveyed the importance of this issue to people in Alaska.
I think Scott's words were think Dutch Harbor as the next Singapore in terms of volume of world trade, and I guess I've amended that in my own mind to think Dutch Harbor and Barrow and maybe Nome and Kasadir (ph) and effects on Bethel, and when I started to work with those thoughts and talk to people about it it seemed to me that of all the challenges that the native people in coastal villages will have faced in the last 100 or so years that could be far and away the tsunami of them all, just in terms of the development that will come from it probably both for good and for bad but at least in the short term bad in terms of dislocation.
And that's one of the reasons that we created Alaska House New York so that people from Alaska who are so well represented here by Byron Mallott, Richard Glenn. Larry Ahvacana, by the way, I'd like to recognize in the row behind the table who is born and raised in Barrow, has done his fair share of hunting on sea ice, and is also the preeminent Alaska native artist whose work you will see at Alaska House tonight. We hope to be able to interest everyone who has some reason to want to come and talk about Alaska and its public policy issues through the forum in New York. End of speech. Look forward to seeing you all later.
BORGERSON: Can we very quickly do the outside rows too? And I'm sorry there weren't more seats at the table but could you introduce yourselves perhaps? We'll start here maybe. Robbie?
ROBBIE GRAHAM: My name is Robbie Graham and I'm the CEO of Bernholz & Graham, a public relations policy firm in Anchorage with an office here in New York, and in addition to my -- (inaudible) -- time also very honored to be an advisor to the -- (off mike) -- Commission and also a board member of Alaska House. So thank you very much.
PENNY JOHNSON (SP): Penny Johnson (sp), cfr.org. (Inaudible) -- energy environment and global health, and at one point I worked for Congressional Quarterly and I covered the Senate Energy and (Natural Resource ?) meetings.
MS. : I'm Mary -- (inaudible) -- and I'm special project -- (inaudible) -- and we're very interested in following up our last year's program on the Arctic and -- (off mike).
TRACEY FOSTER: Hi. I'm Tracey Foster, executive director of Alaska House, New York City.
CHERYL NITER (PH): I'm Cheryl Niter (ph) -- (inaudible) -- of Anchorage, Alaska. I'm interested in the issue and I'm here as a guest too.
NORIO YAMAMOTO: I'm Norio Yamamoto from Tokyo. I'm participating here as a friend of Mr. Mead Treadwell, an old friend of -- (inaudible) -- and I am a CEO of Global Infrastructure Fund Research Foundation which has been promoting a global -- infrastructure for a global sustainable development and also global governance and global security. Example will be, for instance, a new simpler type of transportation infrastructure which contained idea -- (inaudible) -- Silk Road and the Sea Silk Road, and Sea Silk Road means north and the south Silk Road and north Silk Road may go from Far East to Europe going through the Arctic Ocean, and so in this sense -- (inaudible) -- we have been operating with Institute of -- (inaudible) -- of -- (inaudible) -- University -- (inaudible). Thank you very much.
OLAF LARRY AHVACANA (PH): My name is Olaf Larry Ahvacana (ph). I'm originally from Barrow and also from Tikigaq, which is Point Hope. My mother is from Point Hope and she was raised at Prudhoe Bay (18 miles ?) and she saw the change from her own eyes from the traditional lifestyle and -- (inaudible) -- to new development within that area, and also my father was the first executive director of the North Slope -- (inaudible) -- Lloyd -- (inaudible) -- and also my work is involved with stone carving, wood carving, and also glass art, and my subject matter mostly is the change of the environment and also the beauty of the people that live there -- the indigenous people of the land. Thank you.
MS. : My -- (inaudible) -- name is Asula (ph). I'm Donna Ahvacana -- (inaudible) -- I was born in Nome, raised in Homer, lived most of my life in Anchorage until I moved back here and met my husband. My brother is Reggie Jewel (ph). My grandfather was Tony Jewel who's one of the original -- (inaudible) -- people that founded Alaska Native Allotment, and that's it.
ARLENE GLENN: My name is Arlene Glenn. I'm married to Richard and I'm from Barrow.
BORGERSON: Thank you. And maybe quickly on the back row here. Important research assistants always ignored at these meetings.
RYAN MILLER: I'm Ryan Miller, a graduate student at New York University, and I work with Dr. Steven Glenn on national security issues here -- (off mike).
MS. : (Off mike.)
KATHRYN OSHONSKY (PH): I'm Kathryn Oshonsky (ph). I'm Michael Levi's -- (off mike).
MS. : (Off mike) -- coordinator.
ERICA WAHL (PH): Erica Wahl (ph). I'm researcher for -- (off mike).
JOHN HERTZFELD (PH): I'm John Hertzfeld (ph). I'm New York City correspondent for BNA. We publish world climate change reports, international environment reporter, and I've been covering this issue on and off since the early U.N. negotiations that led to the framework convention on climate change back in the late '80s.
SARAH RICHARDSON: Sarah Richardson. I'm an editor at Discover Magazine which covers science for the general public. I'm interested in -- (inaudible) -- issues the Arctic -- (inaudible).
BRAD POOLE (PH): Brad Poole (ph), an attorney with Natural Resources -- (inaudible) -- or history and management and -- (inaudible).
BORGERSON: Okay. So I thank everyone for coming today. I'm sorry introductions took as long as they did but that's because I didn't realize how well attended this would be. It's a pretty remarkable extraordinary collection of people, I think, with a depth of expertise at all facets of this issue. I love that the research assistants are introduced because they do all the work here while we sit at the table and eat the lunch. So thank you for coming.
A quick note of housekeeping -- the Arctic will be the first subject of our round table series. The next will be with the vice chief of Naval operations thanks to Captain Donegan, our visiting naval fellow, where we will discuss security issues and oceans -- (inaudible) -- which will include not just the Arctic but the entire world ocean -- (inaudible) -- save the date in your handout along with the details of that so we hope all of you -- although maybe from Barrow it's a long trip to come for lunch -- but that you might attend.
Before introducing the senator, I'm not sure much more needs to be said about the host of -- wide scope of issues that the Arctic entails. We heard about shipping -- we have some shipping interests here -- and there are already those on the north Pacific and north Atlantic who are contemplating trans-Arctic shipping. So this isn't something at 2050. This is something more in the near future -- that there might be ships making transits inter-ocean not just regional export. We've heard of ship brokers and those related ship companies who are interested in the huge infrastructure requirements that will be needed up there. There's some oil interests here and, of course, ANWR and oil and gas offshore are much in the news, and in fact one of the handouts you have is from an editorial in today's New York Times. David has a very exciting day, not only being at Lehman in today's date -- (inaudible) -- he's the author of that op-ed that speaks to offshore drilling. And so there are a host of issues relevant to that in the Arctic. The sea ice is decreasing as we heard from Richard and that has sort of implications not only for shipping but for those who live there who sometimes in the geopolitical discussions of all this can be forgotten, and their voices are perhaps the ones we should be listening to the most carefully as we think about crafting the multilateral regimes. And so that includes whaling with shipping and the offshore oil and gas industry will be related to, and then the export of all the various natural resources up there.
Having just flown over Red Dog Mine recently I didn't realize how big of an operation that is. Red Dog is huge and there might be further mines like that in the Arctic. So it's an issue that (encompasses the Law of the Sea ?) and U.S. security and foreign policy and lots of issues, and there's really no better person to speak about that than Senator Murkowski, who were joking about before lunch before sort of loves that all of a sudden we in the lower 48 are waking up to the strategic relevance of Alaska and its North Slope.
Just two final housekeeping notes -- the first is for those non-Council members. (Inaudible) -- off the record discussions but today the center has agreed that this would be on the record so everyone knows that today's discussion is for the record. And second, this was meant really to be a working lunch so for our second hour I hope this is a discussion -- a discussion which I'll moderate -- (inaudible) -- the center offers some initial thoughts in which we might have a group discussion about the challenges the United States faces in the future Arctic with the goal of hopefully gleaning some pearls of wisdom from that that we might all take away. At the end of the year one of my charges in running this is to write a Council special report about the strategic ocean governance and challenges and the Arctic, of course, will figure prominently in that.
So without further ado, our guest of honor today to kick off this year's first round table and the first round table ever in the series as a strategic ocean governance round table here is Senator Lisa Murkowski from Alaska, the first Alaskan-born senator to serve in the U.S. Senate. She holds economic -- a degree in economics from Georgetown University and a JD from Willamette College of Law, has a distinguished career serving both in private practice and in the State House in Alaska, and sits on committees that have direct relevance, not surprisingly, to Alaska and the Arctic. She's a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and ranking member of the Energy Subcommittee, and she also serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee where she is ranking member on the Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs.
In addition to that, she's the deputy whip in assisting the majority whip on voting strategy and leadership functions, and on -- I'm summarizing a long list of remarkable accomplishments here but her bio mentioned -- and it's directly relevant to today so I'll start us off by saying -- that she also supports opening ANWR and also building a natural gas pipeline in Alaska. So thank you for coming to New York today for this and we welcome you. Thank you.
SENATOR LISA MURKOWSKI (R-AK): Thank you. I will tell you I am really quite honored to be helping kick off this series of conversations. I can't think of a more exciting and stimulating topic than the Arctic. We in Alaska have been trying to get the nation's attention on the Arctic for years, and we figure we've got all kinds of issues to present and we try working the facts. We try lobbying efforts. We try personal appeals. We try everything, and we finally get on the map with Sarah Palin. (Laughter.)
So, you know, for whatever it's worth, we are now in the limelight. Some of the information that's coming out I suppose is good about our state; some of it is not so good about our state. But at least we've got the nation's attention on where we are on the map.
We need to be reminded as a nation that we are an arctic nation. And I would venture to say, listening to the introductions around the room here, you all get it. You understand. But initiatives like what is happening with the council, the Alaska House here in New York -- these will help remind the rest of the country that we are an arctic nation. And what does it really mean? What does it mean to us as a country to be an arctic nation? Well, if you look at those nations that surround the Arctic Ocean -- Canada and Russia and our friends in Norway -- they're acting like arctic nations. They've got good strong, substantive arctic policy that guides them as a nation, whether it's as it relates to energy or to shipping or to fisheries. They've got policies that actually have some meat to the bones.
We've got a policy here in the United States -- it was last updated in 1994. I don't know. I can go back to 1994 and I can tell you, the world has changed up north, dramatically, and we have not updated our policy. That policy was so meager that it really didn't do anything for us. It didn't acknowledge our role as an arctic nation. With what is happening with climate change -- as we see the sea ice receding and melting and we're seeing change up there -- in many areas change in a dramatic way -- the question then becomes, how is our role as an arctic nation changing and evolving? And I would venture to say that it hasn't changed. We haven't quite embraced that notion, but it will be forced upon us. And this is an opportunity for us to lead, for us to be making policies that are proactive instead of reactive.
So many of you going around the room here are coming at it from the shipping perspective. The arctic hasn't been an area for commerce, for tourism, for exploration. It's been pretty much locked up north. And so all of a sudden, you've got a whole new world that is available in terms of opportunities -- in terms of challenges as well. So we've got the ability now to really write that script, to put in place -- and this shipping assessment is going to be critical -- to put in place those protocols as they relate to search and rescue, as they relate to environmental concerns; just plain old shipping traffic. We can put in place these measures, but now is the time for us to be working aggressively to do that.
It's starting to happen. For those of you that have spent any time up north -- and Rich and Arlene (sp), I don't know what the reaction was in Barrow last summer when 400 German tourists get off a cruise ship in Barrow, Alaska. The world is changing incredibly, and we can't be surprised by that. We've got to be prepared for it.
The tourism has to -- is phenomenal. In 2004, there were 50 cruise vessels in the Arctic. In 2007 there were 250. Greenland this past tourist season saw as many cruise ship passengers go by and visit Greenland as there are residents -- inhabitants in that country. And it's happening like this.
What happens if you've got a cruise ship that has a fire, has an accident, what -- you know, just the sheer logistics of how we deal with this level of commerce and activity is something that should keep us awake at night, but again, give us the opportunity to be proactive with it. It's the shipping; it's the maritime commerce; it's the environmental issues; it's access to energy resources that we've never really had before. The USGS report that came out three weeks or so ago -- identifying the vast potential in the arctic region for conventional oil and gas resources, just off of Alaska in our waters there -- the potential for one-third of the available oil resource there, available to us as a nation.
Well, we're talking today, after the hurricane down in Houston and what Ike has left us and the impact on oil prices, our vulnerability as a nation when it comes to energy security -- we've got opportunities up north. We've always known that, but we've got additional opportunity offshore. But the protocols for how we care for that environment as we engage in extractive resource issues -- incredibly important.
So you've got the energy component; you've got the shipping component. You have just, again, the whole level of commerce and how we provide for a level of infrastructure. And it's not just ports and harbors. I mean, Scott, you were up there in Barrow. You don't have much of a port. You don't have much of a harbor. When the Coast Guard is looking at their assets and how they provide for security, how they would provide for a spill response, there's nothing there. You don't even have capability to communicate because we don't -- there are certain areas where you wouldn't be able to provide for the level of communication when you need a rescue to come in. So we've got to recognize that our infrastructure is sorely lacking. But again, if we can predict the direction that we're going out there, let's get on top of it now. Let's get engaged in it.
I want to hear from the group here and really have a dialogue on what we're facing. From Alaska's perspective, I view the changes up north in the arctic with a level of optimism that we can do things right, but with a concern and anxiety that if we are not proactive, if we're not working collaboratively with our arctic neighbors -- and that's where -- going back to the role of the U.S. as an arctic nation -- we can't be looking at this as this is just, you know, Alaska up in the northern corner there. We have got to be working with all those in the arctic about the protocols and how we provide for -- in the event of an environmental spill, how we provide for search and rescue, how we engage in a level of cooperation.
We need to as a nation become part of the Law of the Sea Treaty; be at that table when we are talking about our resources and our opportunity as a nation to assert that claim that we have up north off of Alaska's shore. We have -- I was going to wait for the questions to answer the inevitable: "Well, what's going to happen with it, Lisa?" I am not optimistic that we will be able to (advance ?) the Law of the Sea Treaty in this Congress. As you know we've got just literally a couple weeks left. Always a possibility of a lame duck, but our reality is we have some colleagues who are prepared to fight it every step of the way, and I think this is to our disadvantage. I think it is imperative that we move on Law of the Sea and become part of that treaty. I'll be real honest with you: When we're looking at where our claims as a nation could be, you've got Russia on one side of you and Canada on the other side, and there's the potential for some overlap there. But if we're not a participant, we can say, "Hey, wait, that is not right," but we are -- we're nothing more than a loud voice in opposition. In order to assert our claims and to oppose the claims of others, we've got to be a participant in the Law of the Sea Treaty. We'll keep working on it, but I'm not at all hopeful that we will be able to be successful in this particular Congress.
Scott, I can go on and on but I'm afraid we then run out of time, and I'd like to hear from -- (off mike) -- the table.
BORGERSON: Great. Thank you. So I heard -- did I hear the answer then is the U.S. prepared for a melting arctic -- no, but we could be if we take steps A through whatever? (Laughter.)
MURKOWSKI: I think we are getting prepared as we become more aware of the opportunities. And whether you are coming at it from a commerce perspective, from -- in looking at the opportunities for shipping, I think we are looking at, well, what is it that we need? What kind of infrastructure do we need up there? The Coast Guard, I can tell you, is looking at it very critically. Admiral Allen I think has said it best. He says, you know, "I'm not going to tell you whether climate change is real or not real; all I can tell you is I've got a lot more water that I'm in charge of." (Laughter.) And we recognize then that if you've got a lot more water to be in charge of, what is it that we need up there? What else do we have to have? It's not just infrastructure; it's -- it is the protocols in place, just kind of laying the ground rules for what happens up there.
MURKOWSKI: The one area that I did not touch upon, and I -- not because it is not of the utmost importance, but the impact to the indigenous people as we see the impacts of climate change are very real. And Richard and Arlene (sp) and those who live up north are seeing it with their very eyes. Their culture is changing; their languages are threatened. There is a great deal at risk from the human side of it, and we cannot forget that as we get focused on commerce or as we get focused on energy exploration. That human side is very, very key and very critical. And I'm not convinced that our arctic policy is perhaps addressing that as critically as they might.
BORGERSON: Okay. Thank you.
Mindful that we have nearly 60 people in the room and everybody has an interesting idea or question, I'd open it now to the room for discussion or questions.
QUESTIONER: Yeah. My name is Jim Dingman from the INN World Report.
BORGERSON: Sir, I'm sorry -- if I could interrupt quickly. So I know how to call in order -- thank you, Laurie (sp), if you could just put your nametag up on its end, that would -- (inaudible).
MR. : (Off mike) -- the mike so we can hear you all through the room?
BORGERSON: Thank you.
QUESTIONER: Jim Dingman, INN World Report. When one thinks about the preparation for the melting arctic, one thinks about the whole coastline of the United States, not just up in the arctic. And I wanted to know what ideas are permeating in Washington about this.
And secondly, what are Sarah Palin's ideas about all this? Because you know, as we look at Charlie Gibson's interview last week, most of us here in the northeast or around the country who have been following this issue think that man-made problems or man-made causes are indeed responsible for global warming, and I must admit that one was left with sort of a quizzical response watching her talk to Charlie Gibson and watching her Pentecostal Assembly of God in Wasilla operate. So I just want to know what you think about that.
MURKOWSKI: Well -- go ahead.
BORGERSON: I'm not sure what to say there for your answer, but as the Strategic Ocean Governance roundtable, I'd also plead that we keep the salt water somehow connected to most of the questions -- (laughter) -- so as to not find ourselves in areas of the ocean that we don't want to go into.
QUESTIONER: Don't muddy the water.
BORGERSON: Don't muddy the water.
QUESTIONER: I did the ocean, though.
MURKOWSKI: Very briefly, Jim, in terms of Governor Palin's stance on this -- I'm not going to speak for her, but I can tell you that she did form a subcabinet climate change commission. Richard, you might know better who else is actually on that commission. The legislature has been involved in looking at this.
From the state perspective, what we're trying to ascertain is the level of threat that we face right here and now. When we talk about climate change and adaptation, this is not some theoretical exercise. The community of Kivalina is threatened by the ocean and just being washed away. So I think that subcabinet and the focus from the legislative perspective on climate change is, how do we deal with these very immediate threats, and do we really understand what we have in terms of the assessment there?
Richard, correct me if I'm wrong there?
MR. : Yeah, and I bet -- (inaudible) -- would have something to contribute on this answer as well.
The Alaska legislature and Governor Palin created commissions -- cabinet-level groups, subcabinet-level advisory groups whose purpose is to provide input on both adaptation and mitigation in response to environmental change. So this is the real boots-on-the-ground results of increased coastal erosion, increased thaw of permafrost, what is the fate of coastal communities. And you're right, we are not alone in this area -- In the Gulf states, on the Eastern Seaboard. In this case I think we're happy to have strength in numbers, you know. The more that can weigh in on this subject, the more perhaps the coastal residents of Alaska will also benefit because we're in an area of really hardscrabble living conditions. And as the commander of the Coast Guard has just learned, this -- there's no infrastructure there. Our communities are isolated; there's no roads.
And so in addition to the change that we're all facing as our coastlines change everywhere, we have this double -- this twofold issue of community change, cultural change, and global climate change that everyone's facing. So Alaska didn't put its head in the sand, I think, in response to this; I think we also could have done a lot more.
BORGERSON: Mike and I actually returned from a several-week trip throughout the vast, beautiful wilderness of the state and wrote an opinion piece that will print next week actually that speaks to that -- that we think the country has a lot to learn from Alaska about adaptation and climate change, which is the other side of the coin of mitigation efforts to greenhouse gas emissions is preparing for inevitable change. Alaska more than any other state arguably is feeling the effects of it.
So, Laurie (sp), I think you were next.
QUESTIONER: Sorry. Thank you very much.
Senator, I wanted to ask you basically a couple of strategic questions related to our friend, Russia. Having spent a fair amount of time in Siberia and seen how much they care about their permafrost and literally the rivers run red through the permafrost with mineral waste flowing like blood across the arctic, and the fact that Putin sent that submarine mission under the North Pole in order to establish the -- how far out the arctic shelf is Russian territory and stake a claim well in advance of the full opening of the Northwest Passage -- "This is us; we control."
So I have a sort of two-part question, strategically for you. In the absence of any framework that we've agreed to as a nation with Russia -- much less Canada or anybody else -- what kind of leverage or bargaining position do we have in talking with Russia both about who owns what, who drills where, who has possession of what chunk of melting water?
And secondly, as a contributor of the waste that is indeed melting the arctic from Siberia, blowing over into Canada and Alaska, we have no leverage against Russia at this time, as I understand it, that's a cease and desist, that's a "you have a responsibility" sort of message.
MURKOWSKI: Well, right now we really don't have any leverage over Russia. The fact that we are not signed onto Law of the Sea -- as I said, we are not at the table to dispute the claim that Russia has made with the commission. They believe that they are entitled to 45 percent of the arctic. When they went and posted that flag, that was the message to the world, that we believe based on our surveys that we can lay claim to 45 percent of the arctic.
Now, they have filed that. When is that supposed to be resolved by the -- I want to say 2011 or --
MR. : Yeah. Ten years after their ratification.
MR. : Right. It's different for each country. It would depend on when Russia ratified.
MURKOWSKI: Right. Depending on when -- but the -- and it's not really significant when it comes about. The fact of the matter is, is they're in there. They've got their application, if you will, saying, "This is what we believe, based on the mapping we have done, that we have a claim to." And even though we, looking at our outer-continental shelf and the contours and what we have learned from our mapping, may believe that, "No, you don't have -- this imaginary boundary line that you're drawing doesn't sync with ours" -- we can't contest that.
Now, in terms of the environmental issues and can the effect of what happens in another arctic nation and all the rest of us suffer -- again, this is where -- whether it's the Law of the Sea Treaty that can help with resolution of some of the environmental issues, or perhaps we need more. Perhaps we need to address specifically the environmental issues through another avenue. And I'm just kind of talking off the cuff here, but that seems to be the one area where as we look at Law of the Sea and what it provides us -- is it strong enough on the environmental issues? I think that that's something that we should be looking at. Because one of the things that we know is what happens up north in this very fragile environment -- the environmental degradation just doesn't stay within their borders and within their boundaries.
QUESTIONER: Can I just follow -- so does that mean if Russia's -- one of Russia's para-statal corporations sets up an oil rig and starts drilling into what they claim is their 45 percent and we feel it's either pre-international waters or even Alaskan waters, then what? Is the United States Navy going into confrontation with Russian oil rigs?
MURKOWSKI: It depends where it is. If it is within their EEZ then that's different, but if it is outside and they haven't -- if its not been -- the commission has not ruled in fact, this is your expanded territory, yeah, what (conflict ?) does (present ?), and how will that be resolved? These are things that we don't know yet, and this is the great uncertainty in this rush for the resource. And that's what I'm afraid we're going to be getting to. We all talk about cooperation, but let me tell you, when oil is going for a hundred bucks a barrel, all of a sudden the rush to the resource is, "Get out of my way." (Laughter.)
MURKOWSKI: Yeah. (Cross talk.)
QUESTIONER: And that barrel looks like South Ossetia.
BORGERSON: Yeah. That's a huge issue that, no doubt, needs attention.
Just one comment I can't help but make -- there are a lot of things I'd like to say about that, but much of the oil that's far offshore is not yet technically recoverable at current prices. So it's a real issue with real tensions, but on any part of the arctic coast, my understanding from talking with oil people working on that issue is that they're not setting up platforms at 225 miles offshore in the arctic. They're looking much closer to shore for now. But those certainly -- how lines are drawn on the map now have huge implications as it relates to the broader interstate issues that you discuss. And there is certainly -- I think some would argue -- I have -- that there's a lack of institutional governance regimes to address those.
MURKOWSKI: Just a point to add: Russia is developing and building an offshore oil rig that is meant to withstand the severe arctic conditions, the likes of which they haven't done before. We can talk about icebreakers. I would expect -- (inaudible) -- to bring that up. But the fact of the matter is, is they're going to be able to compete out there a heck of a lot earlier than we will on the U.S. side.
QUESTIONER: Okay. Well, I'm happy to pick up on the icebreaker (void ?) here because, as many of you may know, the U.S. has far less icebreaking capability between its Navy and Coast Guard to operate in the arctic now than Russia or even Canada, and that's of great concern to our sea services right now. And we're beginning to look very seriously as we develop an arctic strategy for the chief of Naval Operations at just this issue. And so I wanted to bring and include in the discussion with the senator the security issues that we face as the arctic becomes more accessible, and clearly there are going to be potential threats about which we need to be concerned for competition among the arctic nations. And so I wholeheartedly support your call to pass the Law of the Sea Treaty, and the Navy and the military has supported that for a long time.
MR. : President Bush supports it.
QUESTIONER: (Laughs.) Exactly.
And at the same time, there are opportunities I think I would ask you about for strategic engagement to develop models for sort of reengaging even with those who we may be in competition with in the arctic. Over 10 years ago I took a delegation of Russian military officers to Galena to show them how the U.S. Air Force was working with the people of Galena and the local communities to clean up industrial contamination caused by military operations over many years. And the Russian military has its own comparable problems that it has been dealing with, and so we kind of shared those experiences. And I think while there are opportunities that both nations and others face in adaptation challenges in the arctic that we could build on a cooperative arrangement, at the same time being very mindful of the need to have sufficient infrastructure and military capability to continue to perform missions.
MURKOWSKI: It's an excellent point. We had a -- the United States hosted the Arctic Parliamentarian Conference for the first time. These are parliamentarians from the eight arctic nations. It was held in Fairbanks, Alaska in August. A great opportunity for discussion about just not -- not just the national security component but all aspects of what happens within the arctic, whether it's focused on the indigenous peoples and the health or the environmental and the energy issues -- those types of forums I think are going to be essential to further engage. The Arctic Council -- somebody said you were the representative here for the Arctic Council --
MR. : (Off mike.)
MURKOWSKI: -- so please, to have kind of your insight here when we talk about the governance issues up north and those opportunities that we really have to be working much more collaboratively. I think we've got all kinds of good reasons to be doing so, but we need to be on it all the time. And we as a nation need to be more engaged.
I will -- I'll be honest with you: I served as the U.S. representative on the Arctic Parliamentarian Conference and when -- just before the International Polar Year we had gathered and the other parliamentarians were saying, "Well, what's the United States doing for IPY?"
"Well, we're going to have a press conference." (Laughter.)
You know, from a research perspective, this is huge for us, but we just haven't gotten into that mindthink yet of how to be a leader as an arctic nation, and we've got to be more aggressive in participating with our northern neighbors.
QUESTIONER: Scott? By the way, thank you very much for organizing this. And Senator, thank you for being here today.
If our question is, is the U.S. prepared for a melting arctic, I'm going to stick to my initial brief as chair of the Arctic Research Commission and talk about research for a second. First off, one of the great casualties of this three-year continuing resolution budget process that we have in Washington is that a very strong bipartisan attempt to double the budget of the National Science Foundation and the budget of the National Institutes of Health has failed.
Congress passed a 13 percent increase which, after everything was summed out, was about a 3 percent decrease at NSF this year. And having the key core capability here at the Council on Foreign Relations, I want to start by saying America's competitiveness depends on knowledge. We are a knowledge-based country, and having a knowledge-based research capability is core to our competitive position as a nation. And if we don't stick to that, 13 percent, you know, on the Rule of 62, was to double the budget in four or five years, we need to be there. And there is a strong bipartisan approach there and I want to make that point.
Is the U.S. prepared for a melting Arctic? If we don't have the research capability in place in the Arctic, here's what you stand to lose: We are about to go into a global governance discussion, yet again with Copenhagen on responding to climate change. A lot of it will be counting what comes out of people's tailpipes and figuring out how to limit carbon.
Well, the Arctic doesn't have a tailpipe. The Arctic is beginning to put out more and more carbon itself as melting happens. It would be like navigating a ship on a river and not knowing which way the current is going, to not have the Arctic observing networks, this legacy of this International Polar Year that we need to have. So, one thing that we need to do -- and this is international in nature, is a very strong commitment to an observing network.
The Senator mentioned spill research. Most people may not know this, but as we look at more oil and gas operations in the Arctic -- and whether we do it in the United States, if 9th Circuit allows it, or it happens in Russia or in Canada, the fact is that spill -- and with shipping, spill risk in increasing. The EPA has never allowed an on-water spill test in the United States, so we all pay U.S. government funds, and industry funds, and State of Alaska funds, and so forth, to a joint industry project in Norway, which works on this.
The Oil Pollution Act of 1990, which was passed after Exxon Valdez, has been an empty promise when it comes to fulfilling oil spill research in the Arctic, and we need to focus on that. You know, Mr. Abraham, I don't agree with everything in your paper today, but one thing that we ought to be doing with OCS revenues that we are collecting is supporting spill research off-shore that we're not -- that we're not doing today.
An international issue also related to research is access. The Russian government -- and, (Emma ?), I may have these numbers wrong, they came from your offices, that has turned down something like 11 of the last 13 requests, from research vessels of the United States, to conduct pure scientific research in Russian (inaudible) --.
Okay, the "Law of the Sea" -- I agree with, needs to be ratified, but we can't stop there. The Law of the Sea and the Arctic policy that's pending at the White House is basically the start to a shopping list, rather than the endgame here. And one of the things that we need to get to is an agreement on access in the Arctic. If Russia does get 45 percent of the Arctic Ocean, and they say we're not going to give you permission, do they grab samples from the bottom to take the most elementary, benthic samples to understand what's happening with changing populations, to understand -- to take samples from the water column -- I think we've got a problem.
In the Antarctic Treaty we've got that -- that continent is open to science no matter what national claims have been, and we need to see that happen in the Arctic. So, in the research area, to be prepared for a melting Arctic we have to be committed to the observing networks. We have to be committed to the -- to the spill research, and committed to getting and working on access with Russia.
Our efforts to get acclaimed here: The State Department has led a budget initiative now for two years to further increase American mapping -- (inaudible) -- for a claim. We're spending about $6 (million) or $8 million a year. The Canadians have announced they're spending $100 million right now. We need a significant approach there.
Are we prepared for a melting Arctic? Icebreakers: Now, diplomatically, when the chaff goes away -- I agree with Mr. Bellinger at the State Department who wrote in The New York Times this summer, kind of responding a little bit to Scott, that, you know, the Law of the Sea does give us a platform for these things. It's not necessarily the only platform -- as Senator Murkowski said, we can go after some of these other things.
But, you know, I would say that while legally we have the rights that every nation has in the Arctic, it's kind of like if you inherit a cabin from your father, and so does your brother, and he's up there using it and changing the furniture around every weekend, and you get there once a summer. You know, if you haven't been there about the governance of the cabin, pretty soon it's not very much your cabin. (Laughter.) And if we're not up there with a presence in the Arctic, and with the capability to exercise our prerogatives, we're going to lose them. And replacing the two icebreakers in the fleet -- I think it's very interesting, this year the National Science Foundation cancelled the "Polar Seas" trip north of the Bering Sea because we were afraid we would break our icebreaker in the ice.
MS. : (Off mike.) Oh, my -- (inaudible) -- (Laughter.)
MR. : It's prima facie evidence that we need a new icebreaker. A second piece of prima facie evidence that came up is that the Healy got stuck in the ice this summer doing the mapping further north. That is a light icebreaker, not a heavy icebreaker. We sent it to do a job that it's not entirely prepared to do. And America needs to get on the stick here.
Finally, I would just say that, in terms of responding to the -- you know, 'is the U.S. prepared for a melting Arctic?' -- and, again, in your work on international governance, let me just say that we will do things either through the Law of the Sea Treaty that are allowed, or through other IMO efforts in place, or agreements in place, to help build up environmental protection in the Arctic, but we don't really have a mechanism for investment. And that's one reason why I'm very glad my friend, Dr. Yamamoto is here from Tokyo, because he's been working for 20 years on the idea of joint investment in infrastructure.
And I just -- I like to use the example of the St. Lawrence Seaway. If you travel the St. Lawrence Seaway from the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes, you cross the U.S.-Canadian border 23 times, seamlessly. You have one number to call; one inspection to do; one place to pay your bill. And in the Arctic, you may, because of ice conditions, change your course many times in a transit.
And we really need to have some sort of 'drive it down to the operational level, get the politics out of it,' but some sort of way that we have -- that we ensure this ocean is, as Dan Sullivan at the State Department enunciated last year, "safe, secure and reliable."
BORGERSON: I'm not sure I've ever heard Arctic governance framed in analogy of "cabin -- (inaudible, laughter)
MR. : Oh, I know --
MR. : -- (inaudible) -- and I've got job and I got two kids, so --
BORGERSON: (Joel ?).
MR. : Thank you, Scott, for organizing this session.
And thank you, Senator Murkowski, for being here to talk with us.
I would ask you, Senator Murkowski, to tell us what Alaska is doing, and should be doing, and what the U.S. should be doing with respect to two issues that you may have touched on, but only lightly, and I'd like to hear more of your thoughts.
One is human capital. What are we doing to remeasure, improve and protect the health, education and technological readiness of the people who live in the Arctic regions -- not the outsiders, but the people there?
And secondly, what are we doing to remeasure and protect the biological capital in that region of the world -- the species that live in the coastal zones, both on land and in the waters. Do we know the state of affairs, and what should we do to know the state of affairs and to protect? Thank you.
MURKOWSKI: Both very excellent, excellent questions. And one that, again, when we talk about the opportunities in the Arctic we need to know what it is that we have. And we need to know and understand the impact, whether it's the impact to the indigenous peoples that live there, and the biological impact as well.
What are we doing? Not enough. I think we are seeing -- this year and last, as a result of the International Polar Year, we are seeing -- we're seeing a focus on these research areas that I think we will, we will see the benefit in a few years as these all come together. But I will be honest with you -- both from the federal perspective and the state perspective, in terms of fully understanding and assessing the impact to the people of the North, we are not where we should be in understanding that.
And, again, I mentioned very briefly this Arctic policy that we are hoping that this administration will advance in short order. I think when it comes to making sure that we keep the health of the people -- you know, the comprehensive health of the people, as part of our national priority as well, I don't think that we've adequately addressed that. Maybe I'll be proven wrong on that.
In terms of the biological impacts, -- (inaudible) -- spoke a little bit about the funding side of it. And Arnie, with his work to North Pacific Fisheries Council, and all that he does in following the funding for the research on the species, we are not doing an adequate job. And when we look to where we can make those cuts in the budget, it's pretty easy to go after the studies on the, on the walrus, and the seal.
I will tell you, we've -- we have, just in this past month, been notified again of a potential ESA endangered species listing on the Ringed Seal up North. Do we have the research in order to, kind of, defend that listing? No, we don't. And it's going to take years to develop it. And in the meantime you've got, you've got issues and initiatives that precede, and we're not at a point -- I think an acceptable point with the research that we need, biologically and with the human specie.
MR. : Thank you, for a frank answer.
MURKOWSKI: It is frank.
BORGERSON: John (sp).
MR. : Actually, two points: One, I want to come back to Governor Palin for just a minute and say that I believe that she actually favors ratification of the Law of the Sea Treaty, and has said so. So, it's interesting because John McCain has backtracked from his previous strong endorsement of the Treaty in his -- during the campaign, the earlier parts of the campaign; moved into a more or less neutral stance, that he'd have to rethink his position. But, Governor Palin, in any case, is strongly in favor of it.
I want to say a word about the Law of the Sea Treaty because there's a lot of people around the table that may not understand how the Boundary Commission and the Law of the Sea Treaty works. The Law of the Sea Treaty established a Boundary Commission, which I think contains -- has 21 experts who will pass on conflicts, or claims of nations that put forward their -- where their outer continental shelf will go, and where it may go (sic).
And, indeed, the Russians had already put such a request before the Boundary Commission, which was turned down. So, they're going back a second time to establish their new claim with the -- (inaudible) -- possibly with the icebreaker.
The problem -- our not being a ratifier of the Law of the Sea Treaty is that we have no standing to appear at that Boundary Commission. We cannot object to the Soviets doing it. And even worse, we cannot present our own claims to (our ?) (outer continental ?) margin, have those ratified. Because, in a sense, the Boundary Commission is -- since the United States is the only country in the world, only maritime country in the world that has not ratified the Law of the Sea Treaty. One hundred and fifty-five other countries have, including all the other Arctic countries, including, of course, Russia.
But the fact remains is that the Boundary Commission will be the commission that determines where those claims are, and who is going to be allowed to (go ?) where -- (underlined "where," ?) and to do what in the Arctic. And until we become a signatory, our hands are simply tied. So, I want to underline Senator Murkowski's earlier statement saying this it's of critical importance that we get the Law of the Sea Treaty ratified as soon as possible. Thank you.
MS. : Thank you. I want to echo the thanks of everyone else for this great panel.
I want to go back to something that you said before, Senator Murkowski, about the impact that potential drilling might have, that there's no real preparation. And as Congress is in the midst of debating opening up our outer continental shelf, isn't this an opportunity for bringing about some of that preparation, since there is so much interest in changing our law on this?
And, what do you think is necessary; and how much will it take; and, are you prepared to do what it takes to get that there? And do we rush to try and open up this important area for exploration and, eventually, drilling?
MURKOWSKI: We need to make sure -- particularly up North where we would be exploring and drilling in areas loaded with ice -- the impact of the moving ice, the potential for a spill, and how you deal with clean up in ice-choked areas, is something that I think causes legitimate concern, certainly for the people who rely on subsistence -- to think that they could lose the whale, the other sea mammals that they rely on.
I think it's fair to say that if you were to ask them, 'do you want resource wealth, or do you want to be able to continue your life, your subsistence lifestyle?' I would bet you that most of them would say, 'my subsistence lifestyle defines me; it's who I am.' And so we can't -- we can't have this trade-off. It can't be an either/or.
We have to be able to provide that level of assurance, and environmental security, if you will, that if a disaster happens there is a way to contain, there is a way to mitigate it. We certainly learned with the Exxon Valdez that we had an oil spill response plan that was not adequate. We learned from that. And I think we are, we are noted, internationally, now for what we have in place in Prince William Sound. We will never have another incident like the Exxon Valdez because of the protocols that we put in place.
We need to make sure that we have a similar -- whether it's a mechanism, or a similar effort that can provide for that level of assurance. There is no way to guarantee that an accident will never happen. But I think, from Alaskans' perspective -- as someone who was born and raised there, and raising my boys there -- I will not accept an environmental disaster the likes of which we saw with the Exxon Valdez.
And so we have to make sure that we've got satisfactory provisions in place. It's been interesting, as Shell has embarked on their efforts. And they've come head to head with the whalers. And I think, you know, Richard -- (inaudible) -- there, but I think they've come a long ways in the two years of negotiation, as to how you can have an industry in this area, while at the same time allowing for traditional subsistence by the indigenous peoples that are there.
We're -- we're trying to do it right. Both sides are uncomfortable with it right now, so maybe we're making some progress.
BORGERSON: We're under 10 minutes, so this is where we get to what I call the "lightening round," or the final questions. (Laughter.)
If we could have Lisa, Byron, Evan, and all ask one last one. If you could just quickly, sort of, (capture ?) your question, and then if you could maybe -- (inaudible) -- all together.
MS. : I'll go first.
MS. : Thank you. And, thank you, Scott, for organizing this wonderful roundtable.
I wonder -- I just got back from a conference in Berlin where the European Union sponsored a meeting on how we ought to proceed with governance in the Arctic. And the idea that the EU was taking a lead here -- and other groups like the Aspen Commission indicates to me that there's a real lack of leadership in the U.S. government on these issues, on developing a coherent, non-stovepiped mechanism for setting standards, and for rationally and logically governing the Arctic.
I'm wondering if you can speak to what the future may hold with that regard? And, particularly, you alluded to the potential for building on the Law of the Sea, with respect to environmental governance, and perhaps developing beyond what we have now in the form of an implementing agreement, or perhaps a regional seas agreement?
BORGERSON: Thank you.
MR. : Senator Murkowski is an incredible ray of light in the Alaska firmament, for sure, and we appreciate all that she does.
If you took a Google Earth map and zeroed in on southwest Alaska, and had no frame of reference in terms of political boundaries, you'd say this place could not exist in the United States of America. You would say that, and if you were told that it did, many would not believe it. That's looking through Western eyes.
If you look at it economically, and socially, and in terms of all of the kinds of aspirational and expectation understandings that we have as citizens of this incredible nation, this wealthy nation -- if you look at it in the context of Alaska, less than 700,000 people, on a per capita basis, are among the most wealthy -- not just in America but in the world, with our permanent funds and the revenues the state is gaining from $100 average oil.
If you look at it in the eyes of the people who live there, it's a wonderfully rich, and vibrant and special place, but still, with incredible tensions having to do with worries about, 'can we stay here?' And that is the area that is being affected -- at least on the part of the United States, with the discussions we're having today. Those places are coastal. And we have seen all of the waves of development that have come our way for -- (inaudible) -- and it's very, very different, but it's not particularly new, in terms of the kind of impacts that the people must deal with.
I just wrote -- and it's (apropos ?) of nothing, it's just 650 words on a piece of paper that what Alaska needs is a new "Marshall Plan." We need to focus incredible effort to bring our people along, to bring the kinds of brains that exist in this room, and from other places of the world, to help us deal with the circumstance of -- particularly Alaska's native peoples. Because if we deal with all of the things that we're talking about here -- in terms of governance, in terms of every kind of opportunity and challenge -- and Alaska's native people are still forgotten, as they have been every other time that development of any kind has taken place, at some point we're going to look at who and what we are as a nation, and we're going to say, we've failed again. Thanks.
BORGERSON: Evan (sp).
MR. : Well, a lot of -- a lot is going on in Arctic diplomacy; some of it is going on in the Arctic Council; some of it is going on in other places. We've had a little more than 10 years of experience with the Arctic Council, and it has a somewhat limited mandate, but it is the only body of its kind where the eight Arctic states come together to talk about Arctic matters related to (at least ?) environmental protection and sustainable development.
There are a lot of issues here -- that have been discussed today that are not under active consideration there, and there's obviously a lot more to be done, not just within the Council but in other places. And, certainly, I agree that the U.S. needs to be more engaged in these issues.
Part of that engagement may follow from the (relief ?) of the policy that the senator was alluding. For the last year and a half or so, many federal agencies -- led by State and the National Security Council, have been working on what is now a National Security Council directive and a Homeland Security Council directive, combined. And it's -- it's in its last stages; and it's at the White House; and it's not quite out the door.
So, we've been talking about it being almost out the door for a number of months now. And we hope that it happens. So, that's something that may cause a great deal of attention to be placed -- at least from the U.S., on what we're doing and where the government feels its going.
I also wanted to mention a conference. About three months ago in Ilulissat, Greenland, the Danes brought together a high-level officials to have a discussion -- political issues about Arctic matters. And the results, in our view, were very satisfactory because there was a general understanding that it was -- (the Ilulissat convention ?) in particular, that had your great value, and that there would be cooperation among the key Arctic states. So, obviously, that's something that we wish to -- you know, the State Department to promote as much as we can. Thanks.
MR. : (I'll take my ?) -- (inaudible) -- at the end, because I can't believe it hasn't been mentioned yet, and that is the difference between the U.S. and Canada's definition of the Northwest Passage.
On our way home from Alaska, Prime Minister Harper was heading North to hold a cabinet meeting in the Arctic. So, it would be as if President Bush gathered the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Defense, and others and said, we're going to Barrow for the day to talk about, sort of, Arctic policy --
MS. : We're hoping that's going to be happening.
MR. : Me too. (Laughs.) This is ranked on at one of the top two or three issues in Canada. Part of the reason Prime Minister Harper rides on it, of course, is it's political mileage, and he's holding an -- announced he's going (to hold ?) election as well. And so you can't -- can't throw a stone in Ottawa and not hit an Arctic expert. And the U.S. -- it's just not as high, I guess, on the policy agenda.
So, the two countries -- each other's, respective, largest trading partners, have huge (other equities ?) on our other maritime and land boundaries. -- (inaudible) -- a long list of issues, differ -- fundamentally differ on this core issue to their relationship. And so, how might that be managed, and do you see any change to the '88 agreement to disagree between U.S. and Canada? This becomes a more important issue in Ottawa and remains an invisible issue, it seems, in D.C.
MS. : -- (inaudible) -- kind of ties back into Lisa's comment about, kind of, the role that the EU is looking to, perhaps, take on in the absence of the U.S. action and activity. And I want to believe that it's because we just haven't been focused on the Arctic -- that that's why we're not engaged; that's why we're not leading; and that all it's going to take is good, strong people raising the issue, long and loud enough, and we'll get on that agenda.
I want to believe that rather than the alternative, which is we just don't care. Because if we just don't care, we are missing an incredible opportunity as a world leader in an area where we can -- we can really help to shape and build these policies with the other Arctic nations, rather than have them build them around us, if you will, and hope that we like them.
I don't necessarily want to blame it on the Bush administration or any other prior administration. The Arctic has just not risen to the level of importance. And I think part of the problem is -- and I'll be very general in my comments here, but we focus our energies on the "problem children." And, you know, if something's happening in another part of the globe, we'll be -- we'll be going there first. We haven't had any problems in the Arctic to speak of. There hasn't been anything that really got the attention of the guys that are running things.
I believe that with all the focus on energy resources now, that perhaps we can be viewed in perhaps greater favor, or greater opportunity. But, again, then it's not just the United States waking up to this -- you look at what Canada is doing, you look at what Russia is doing, you look at what the other Arctic nations are doing. And they ask me, when we're in the -- (when in ?) the Arctic Parliamentarian, it's like, "What is going on within the United States? What are you guys doing?" And they're really quite confused about why we haven't taken advantage of this opportunity. We take advantage of every other world opportunity.
So, all good questions. And I really don't have the inside answer there as to why, within the State Department, we -- we tried very hard to get some higher-ups at the State Department to come to the Arctic Parliamentarian conferences. We have pushing, along with many of you, to advance this Arctic policy, "Let's make this happen now." And it's kind of like, yeah, yeah, yeah, it's coming, it's coming, it's coming. Well, so is Christmas and the end of your administration.
And I feel so very strongly about this as an opportunity for us as a nation. I get -- I'm just befuddled as to why we haven't been able to engage more from a national -- from an administration's perspective. So, I'm in good company here with you all, and I appreciate that.
BORGERSON: Thank you.
Thank you, everyone for coming.
Thank you, Senator.
I'd like to remind everybody, tonight is the Alaska House-New York party, and opening, and hope to see you all --
MS. : Hope to see you.
BORGERSON: -- see you there. And please note, you'll -- you will receive a formal invitation for our second roundtable. -- (inaudible) -- the date is on the back of today's handout, the 29th of October. The vice chief of Naval Operations will discuss security in oceans, broadly. Thank you again, and have a terrific day. (Applause.)
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