A national expert on Arctic policy told state lawmakers on Thursday that Alaska will be at the front line of global competition over Arctic Ocean resources.
Mike Sfraga, director of the Polar Institute at the Washington, D.C.-based think tank the Wilson Center, said climate change is making the Arctic Ocean more accessible.
“That’s why I’ve called Alaska the nation’s vanguard, because this is a new ocean,” he said. “This is a new landscape of competition. And that’s why we must be diligent in what we do, I believe, in the state of Alaska.”
Sfraga said the U.S. should develop a deep-water port in or near the Arctic. He said research suggests it could be at Nome or another site. And he said the country should be prepared to invest heavily in the project.
“This nation needs a deep-water port,” he said. “We just need one. And we have more reports than we can stack on a table — pick one. And then do a Manhattan Project on it. I mean, if it’s Nome, let’s go all in on Nome.”
Sfraga also said the U.S. should establish a greater military presence in the Arctic.
Sfraga’s testimony was part of the annual meeting of the Legislature’s Joint Armed Services Committee.