The Stakes Are High in the Arctic, So Biden Makes a Move

State Department announces plan to appoint ambassador-at-large
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 26, 2022 10:10 AM CDT
US Set to Finally Get an Arctic Ambassador
Norway’s remote Arctic Svalbard Islands are shown.   (AP Photo/Romas Dabrukas, File)

The number of US ambassadors looks set to grow by one. The State Department on Friday announced that President Biden "plans to elevate the Arctic Coordinator position by appointing an Ambassador-at-Large for the Arctic Region." The Senate will need to give its approval regarding the creation of the position; Politico notes no names have been floated yet. Earlier this month, Sen. Lisa Murkowski penned an op-ed for the Hill noting that the US is the sole Arctic nation (there are eight—Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Russia, and the US) without a dedicated Arctic ambassador or higher; she points out even non-Arctic countries like Japan and China have one.

The stakes are high, she argues. The Arctic is warming four times faster than the rest of the planet, which could have dire effects on sea levels. That melting is also opening shipping lanes that could shorten routes. "Vast reserves of Arctic minerals can help meet skyrocketing global demand," adds Murkowski. And then there's the angling of other countries, like Russia, which is growing its military presence there, and China, which Politico notes has taken to calling itself a "near-Arctic state."

In its press release, the State Department explains the role: "The Ambassador-at-Large for the Arctic Region will advance US policy in the Arctic, engage with counterparts in Arctic and non-Arctic nations as well as Indigenous groups, and work closely with domestic stakeholders, including state, local, and Tribal governments, businesses, academic institutions, non-profit organizations, other federal government agencies and Congress." (Read more Arctic stories.)

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