Dedicated Experts Advance US Interests in the Arctic Region

Larry Hinzman September 24, 2021

Today, the Biden-Harris Administration significantly bolstered efforts to protect and advance United States’ interests in the Arctic region by adding a slate of dedicated Arctic experts to its team. These new leaders will oversee the Administration’s science-based, whole-of-government approach to tackling climate change, enhancing the United States’ national and economic security, and growing coordination – particularly with Indigenous Peoples – in the Arctic region.

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The Biden-Harris Administration is reactivating the Arctic Executive Steering Committee (AESC), a mechanism to advance U.S. Arctic interests and coordinate Federal actions in the Arctic. The AESC will also facilitate the implementation of the Northern Bering Sea Climate Resilience Area by administering the Northern Bering Sea Task Force and Tribal Advisory Council, reinforcing collaborative partnerships — particularly with Alaska Native communities — and harnessing science and Indigenous Knowledge to inform management and policy.

The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has hired Ambassador David Balton as AESC Executive Director and Raychelle Alauq Daniel as AESC Deputy Director to ensure the committee is able to address it goals.  The Administration has also appointed six highly qualified, diverse Commissioners to the U.S. Arctic Research Commission (USARC) underscoring the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to ensuring that USARC’s recommendations to Congress on scientific research goals and objectives for the Arctic are derived from a broad range of expertise and perspectives.  The five new commissioners are: Dr. Michael Sfraga of Fairbanks Alaska, Ms. Elizabeth Qaulluq Cravalho of Kotzebue Alaska, Dr. Mark Myers of Anchorage Alaska, Dr. Jacqueline Richter-Menge of Lyme New Hampshire, and Ms. Deborah Vo of Anchorage Alaska. Mr. David Kennedy, former chair of the USARC has been reappointed to continue his role as Commissioner.  Dr. Sfraga will now assume the role of USARC chair.

A vacancy currently exists on the commission, for a representative from the research community, as former commissioner Major General Randy “Church” Kee, USAF (ret.) resigned his position, effective September 10, 2021, to accept the federal position of Senior Advisor, Arctic Security Affairs, in the U.S. Department of Defense.  Dr. Sethuraman Panchanathan, the Director of the National Science Foundation serves as the eighth and final member of the commission in an ex officio non-voting capacity.

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