Press ReleaseMay 3, 2012
Markey Asks for Hearing on Warming Arctic’s Implications for U.S. Economic and Military InterestsIssues: Climate Change and the Coasts
As Sea Ice Retreats, U.S. Economic, National Security Concerns Advance
WASHINGTON (May 3, 2012) – Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) today asked Republicans on the Natural Resources Committee to hold a hearing on the economic, environmental and national security issues in the Arctic region because of the loss of sea ice from global warming. In a letter sent to Chairman Doc Hastings (R-Wash.), Rep. Markey cites a study released this week by the non-partisan Center for Climate and Energy Solutions that raises concerns about military conflicts that could arise from increased activities in oil and gas exploration, shipping, and fishing.
“With the well-documented and rapid retreat of sea ice, the potential for increased shipping activity, expanded access to fisheries resources, and increased exploration for oil, gas, and other minerals make Arctic policy of utmost importance, even when we consider the United States in a vacuum,” writes Rep. Markey, who is the top Democrat on the Committee. “The impending competition for these assets with other Arctic countries necessitates swift action to put in place a set of national policies to address the impact of climate change on this region. A lack of preparedness could limit our ability to claim, utilize, and conserve Arctic natural resources.”
The letter from Ranking Member Markey to Chairman Hastings can be found HERE.
Recent science indicates that the extent of Arctic summer sea ice has declined by almost 50 percent since 1900, and that the five lowest extents on record have occurred in the last five years. This has resulted in the opening of the Northwest Passage through the Canadian Archipelago during each of the past five summers. Further, models have estimated that summer minimum ice volume in the Arctic has declined by roughly 75 percent since satellite observations began in 1979, and scientists are predicting nearly ice-free Arctic summers by the 2030s.