To Catch Russia in Arctic, Obama Wants Icebreakers

In Alaska, president will underscore exploration opportunities we're missing
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 1, 2015 7:00 AM CDT
To Catch Russia in Arctic, Obama Wants Icebreakers
File photo of the Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker Louis S. St-Laurent makes its way through Baffin Bay on its annual voyage through Canada's Arctic.   (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jonathan Hayward)

President Obama yesterday painted a nearly apocalyptic future for Alaska unless global warming is reined in, reports the AP, and today he's going to touch on the flip side of that: The melting Arctic also raises all kinds of exploration and commerce opportunities, and Obama will push for more US icebreakers to ply the waters. Other nations, especially Russia, are way ahead of the US on that count, and Obama wants the Coast Guard to get aggressive about building and acquiring new ships, reports the New York Times. The newspaper cites this jarring stat: The US has two fully functioning heavy icebreakers, while Russia has 41. Politico calls this the "icebreaker gap" and quotes Republican Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska: “The highways of the Arctic are icebreakers," he says. "Right now the Russians have superhighways and we have dirt roads with potholes."

Other developments as Obama embarks on the second day of a three-day visit:

  • Alaska's troubles: As Obama tries to highlight the dangers of climate change, there's no better place than Alaska, reports CBS News. From wildfires to melting glaciers to thawing permafrost, it's just about ground zero.
  • Reality president: Obama will tape an episode of NBC's Running Wild with Bear Grylls today. USA Today takes note of this petition that showed up on the White House website, asking the president to embrace the Grylls way and drink his own urine, "for science."
  • Hypocrite? A meteorologist blogger at Slate thinks Obama's decision to let Shell drill for oil in the Arctic undercuts his warnings about the region.
Meanwhile, Obama's decision to rename Mount McKinley has ticked off Ohio lawmakers. (More President Obama stories.)

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