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U.S. Risks Falling Behind Other Nations on Arctic Initiatives, GAO Study Says

The U.S. needs a better strategy to coordinate and prioritize its policies related to the Arctic region, according to a Government Accountability Office (GAO) study that was released by Reps. Rick Larsen, Tim Bishop, John Garamendi and Senator Lisa Murkowski.

The GAO study focused on U.S. participation in the Arctic Council, a voluntary body started in 1996 that includes the eight Arctic nationsóCanada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia, Sweden and the U.S., as well as indigenous groups and other stakeholders. The State Department leads participation for the U.S.

The U.S. has not prioritized its commitments to the Arctic Council and is limited in its ability to respond to emergencies in the Arctic region, the report found. As sea ice melts, making way for increased commercial activity, the report recommends a stronger strategy for U.S. participation in the Arctic Council and better process to track progress toward achieving Council goals.

Larsen introduced a bill with Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner last month to establish a U.S. Ambassador at Large for Arctic Affairs and has strongly supported additional investments in icebreakers.

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