Arctic Yearbook 2015 - Page 371

371 Arctic Yearbook 2015 nation. That needs to change. Before policymakers can make informed decisions about Arctic investments, they need to know why this area is so critical. That is why I worked with Congressman Young from Alaska to start the Congressional Arctic Working Group. The Working Group seeks to help members of Congress better understand the opportunities and challenges for the U.S. as an Arctic nation, and it acts as a resource for other Arctic countries to interact with Congress. Since its inception a year ago, the Working Group has raised awareness about the importance of the Arctic through events for Members and their staff to meet with Arctic officials from other Arctic nations, as well as a variety of stakeholders. We held a discussion with Norway’s State Secretary, heard from Canada’s Senior Arctic Official about the recent Canadian Arctic Council chairmanship, and held a briefing with senior State Department officials to discuss the agenda for the U.S. chairmanship. The Working Group also hosted representatives of indigenous groups from Russia. Continuing international engagement with all the members of the Arctic Council is critical, and the Working Group is filling that role in Congress. There are other steps the U.S. should take. Every Arctic nation except the U.S. has an ambassadorlevel position dedicated to Arctic affairs. The U.S. should join its peers by creating such a position, which is why I introduced a bill with Congressman Sensenbrenner to do just that. An Ambassador to the Arctic would help the U.S. better manage our many interests in the region, as well as signal our country’s commitment to international cooperation on Arctic policy. The U.S. also does not have the icebreaking capability to fulfill research and commercial missions in the uniquely icy seas. The U.S. Coast Guard has said it needs at least three each of heavy and medium duty icebreakers. But currently the U.S. only has one of each, and other countries have jumped far ahead of us on this front. Russia is currently bu