On Thursday of last week, the first-ever hearing dedicated to the Arctic region as a whole was held in the U.S. Senate. The hearing signaled the launch of the “Arctic Caucus” (Caucus), a body assembled by Senators Angus King (I-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) to explore issues facing the geographic area. The formation of the Caucus coincides with the United States’ ascension to a two-year post as chairperson of the Arctic Council (Council), the intergovernmental body of eight Arctic nations.
Senator King’s remarks on the region illustrate that his interests reach beyond that of the Council. He said, “As the climate changes and the Arctic continues to open, the strategic significance of the region will only grow more important, both for Maine and for the rest of United States. In essence, what we are seeing before our eyes is the revealing of a new and enormously important ocean resource with respect to energy, security, and commerce.”