Secretary of State John Kerry will name a “special representative” to the Arctic region at a time when diminishing ice is bringing new shipping access, competition for energy resources, and environmental risks.
Kerry announced the plan in a letter to Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, who has called for the position.
“For a long time now, I’ve shared the view that the Arctic region really is the last global frontier, and the United States needs to elevate our attention and effort to keep up with the opportunities and consequences presented by the Arctic’s rapid transformation,” Kerry said in the letter that Begich released Friday.
He writes that it’s “vital that we elevate the entirety of Arctic issues and interests — environmental, economic, energy, geostrategic, national security, and more within the State Department itself.”
Kerry is crafting the new position as the U.S. prepares to begin a two-year stint as the next chair of the multination Arctic Council in 2015.
“The Arctic is at a strategic inflection point as its ice cap is diminishing more rapidly than projected and human activity, driven by economic opportunity — ranging from oil, gas, and mineral exploration to fishing, shipping, and tourism — is increasing in response to the growing accessibility,” the Defense Department document states.
Begich and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (who isn’t impressed with White House Arctic efforts) have both called for creating an Arctic ambassador position.
Begich called State’s decision to create the envoy position “an important step in the right direction.”
“The bottom line is that the changes we see in the Arctic warrant a higher level of involvement from the U.S. and this position will allow us to better exercise leadership and vision in Arctic policy moving forward,” Begich said in a statement Friday.
What We're Following See More »
"Wikileaks published more than 8,000 documents purportedly taken from the Democratic National Committee Friday, just days before the start of the party's convention in Philadelphia. The documents included briefings on off-the-record fundraisers and candid photographs."
Hillary Clinton "is widely expected to announce her choice" of vice president "in an email to supporters while on a campaign swing in Florida on Friday afternoon." The consensus: it'll be Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, although Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack are also said to be in the running.
- A Rasmussen Reports poll shows Donald Trump ahead of Hillary Clinton, 43%-42%, the fourth week in a row he's led the poll (one of the few poll in which he's led consistently of late).
- A Reuters/Ipsos survey shows Clinton leading 40%-36%. In a four-way race, she maintains her four-point lead, 39%-35%, with Gary Johnson and Jill Stein pulling 7% and 3%, respectively.
- And the LA Times/USC daily tracking poll shows a dead heat, with Trump ahead by about half a percentage point.