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Obama Administration releases implementation plan for the National Strategy for the Arctic Region

31 January 2014

The Obama Administration released the Implementation Plan for the National Strategy for the Arctic Region, itself released in May 2013. The main lines of effort of the Strategy and the Implementation Plan are: (1) to advance US security interests; (2) to pursue responsible Arctic region stewardship, including an increase in scientific research related to the region; and (3) to strengthen international cooperation.

Our highest priority is to protect the American people, our sovereign territory and rights, and the natural resources and other interests of the United States. This line of effort focuses on the identification, development, and maintenance of capacity and capabilities necessary to promote safety, security, and stability in the region. In some cases, implementation will be achieved through multilateral cooperation. In other instances, national security interests will best be achieved through independent actions or bilateral initiatives.

—The Plan

Major objectives of the plan designed to advance US security interests are:

  • Evolve Arctic Infrastructure and Strategic Capabilities. This is a multi-threaded effort comprising preparing for increased maritime activity; sustaining and supporting evolving aviation requirements; and developing communication infrastructure in the Arctic.

  • Enhance Arctic Domain Awareness. This will involve improving appropriate capabilities to collect and exchange information by leveraging partnerships with all entities operating in the Arctic.

  • Preserve Arctic Region Freedom of the Seas. This entails two main thrusts: sustaining Federal capacity to project a sovereign US maritime presence, support US interests in the Polar Regions and facilitate research that advances the fundamental understanding of the Arctic; and promoting international law and freedom of the seas.

  • Provide for Future US Energy Security. This entails promoting the development and deployment of available US energy resources such as wind, wave and solar. It also entails what the Administration calls the safe and responsible exploration and development of onshore and offshore Arctic non-renewable energy resources in an environmentally sound manner.

    The latter will involve a number of activities, including: exploratory deep-water baseline benthic assessments; pursuing a regionally tailored approach for potential future offshore leasing by the end of 2016; assessing the capacity and integrity of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System to facilitate the flow of additional onshore and offshore oil resources by the end of 2016; encouraging the development and improvement of technology to capture hydrocarbons in response to an oil spill including the loss of well control; and evaluating and promoting spill prevention technology involved in the drilling process, wellbore integrity, production operations, and final well plugging and abandonment.

The Administration solicited input from Alaska Natives, the State of Alaska, Congress, academia, industry and others to develop the Implementation Plan that sets forth the guidelines for Federal Departments and Agencies to execute the National Strategy for the Arctic Region.

The Implementation Plan will be reviewed on an annual basis to ensure that progress continues to be made in positioning the United States to best prepare and respond to changes, challenges, and opportunities in the Arctic region. Progress on implementation actions by Federal Departments and Agencies will be provided through an annual report to the President.

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