Morning Headlamp — Latest Arctic Developments Long Overdue

Come sale away. The state is conducting an annual lease sale in the Beaufort Sea and North Slope that could provide clues about how the industry views oil opportunities in the state. The state’s sale, announced Friday, will conclude Dec. 14 when officials publicly open bids. Bids will be accepted until Dec. 12. The sale comes amid growing interest over a different lease sale proposed for federal waters of the U.S. Arctic Ocean; with pro-development forces concerned the federal government will not allow sales in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas in its 2017-22 program. The sale also comes quickly following large finds from Caelus and Armstrong. More oil in the pipeline is good for all Alaskans. 

Common ground. Four of Alaska’s five U.S. Senate candidates found a lot to agree on in the state’s first Arctic debate in Barrow. The four candidates “will probably agree on lots of things,” independent Margaret Stock said at the start of the debate. “I think we’ll agree that the federal government should be paying more attention to the Arctic. I think we will agree that the federal government should be increasing its research on the effects of climate change on subsistence, on resource development and on national security in the Arctic. I think we will agree that the federal government should be building more icebreakers.” The group broadly agreed that the U.S. needs more focus on national security in the Arctic, given recent Russian aggression in the region.

A dream come true. The debate was well-timed as the U.S. Coast Guard announced it is moving forward on its long-range plan to build new icebreakers, asking potential builders this week to weigh in on their plans and timeline. The U.S. has only two heavy-duty icebreakers. One, the Polar Sea, is unusable and all but scrapped, while the other, the Polar Star, is dedicated to scientific missions in Antarctica. A third icebreaker, the medium-duty Healy, travels in the Arctic mainly as a research ship.


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First Reads

State lease sale announced on heels of 2 large oil discovery announcements
Alaska Dispatch News, Alex DeMarban, October 30, 2016

Here’s what Alaska’s US Senate candidates had to say at the first-ever debate in the Arctic
Alaska Dispatch News, Erica Martinson, October 28, 2016

Coast Guard advances plans to build 3 icebreakers
Alaska Dispatch News, Erica Martinson, October 29, 2016

Time for Walker to change course
Alaska Journal of Commerce, Jonathan Katchen, October 30, 2016