Sen. King co-founds caucus to put Maine on front line of Arctic issues

Sen. Angus King is partnering with Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska to influence U.S. policies on Arctic issues. King, an independent, and Murkowski, a Republican, on Wednesday announced the creation of an “Arctic Caucus” in the Senate. Both senators share the vision that the United States should play a leadership role in guiding international policy decisions that affect the Arctic.

The effort comes as the United States prepares to assume the chairmanship of the Arctic Council in April.

Sen. Angus King says that the strategic significance of the Arctic will only grow more important as climate changes and Arctic ice recedes. Reuters

The partnership signals that Maine for the first time is seeking to play a role in shaping U.S. policy on Arctic issues. Historically, only Alaska has shown much interest in the Arctic, but Maine is now positioning itself as a gateway to the Arctic. Two years ago, the Icelandic steamship line, Eimskip, which serves Iceland, Greenland and the Arctic regions of northern Europe, made Portland its only port of call in the United States and North American headquarters.

The state has since created the Maine North Atlantic Development Office to develop trade and investment between Maine and North Atlantic markets. The Maine National Guard has worked with Alaska to create an Arctic Interest Working Group. Last fall, the Bangor-based 101st Air Wing of the Maine Air National Guard tested advanced communications equipment while flying with the Canadian Air Force near Goose Bay, Labrador.

Also, the University of Maine’s Climate Change Institute has focused much of its research work on the Arctic.

Read the full article in the Portland Press Herald