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Alaska Dispatch: Begich aims to raise U.S. profile in Arctic by creating ambassador

In the U.S., Alaska officials are at the vanguard of a lot of the country’s initiatives and policymaking in the far north, whether it’s regulating offshore oil drilling or looking into the best site for a deep-draft port. Thus, it comes as no surprise that U.S. Sen. Mark Begich, D-Alaska, is one of the few Americans calling for the creation of an Arctic ambassador. In a letter (PDF) to President Obama, Begich stated, “The changes we see in the Arctic today now warrant taking the next step to heighten our diplomatic presence at the top of the globe with the appointment of a U.S. Ambassador to the Arctic.”

On Feb. 11, Begich introduced S. 270, also known as “United States Ambassador at Large for Arctic Affairs Act of 2013.” He lists a number of geographic reasons as to why the U.S. merits such a position, including the length of Alaska’s Arctic shoreline, the 100 million acres of American territory above the Arctic Circle, and “an even broader area defined as Arctic by temperature that includes the Bering Sea and Aleutian Islands.”