Arctic Shipping Legislation Advances in U.S. Senate

Prioritizing Arctic Maritime Transportation Opportunities, Safety, and Security

WASHINGTON D.C.—U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), a member of the Senate Commerce, Science & Transportation Committee, today thanked his colleagues on the committee for voting unanimously to advance the Arctic Shipping Federal Advisory Committee Act, legislation to address the impacts and opportunities of increasing shipping and maritime traffic. The bill was introduced by U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), and sponsored by Sullivan, Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.). The legislation calls for the U.S. to take advantage of emerging opportunities in the Arctic for maritime transportation by creating an advisory committee to study Arctic maritime transportation, including Arctic seaway development, and ensure that increased Arctic shipping proceeds safely and securely.

“Russian President Vladimir Putin sees the Arctic as the new Suez Canal, and he has every intention of controlling these vital transit routes,” said Senator Sullivan. “As sea ice recedes further and shipping lanes open, America must strongly assert its sovereignty and step up to hostile nations that seek to undermine our economic and national security interests in the region. Right now, we’re not prepared to do that. I’m glad to work on this legislation, with strong bipartisan support, that will engage the highest levels of the federal government in laying the groundwork for improved maritime transportation infrastructure in the Arctic.”

“Warming temperatures and diminishing sea ice are opening up shipping routes and changing the scope of the Arctic. It’s imperative that we are not left behind as nations such as Russia, China, and many more are taking interest in the region. As an Arctic nation, the U.S. must maintain its leadership role in this area of global importance,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski. “As I continue my efforts to raise awareness of the Arctic and advance issues important to the region and to the people who live there, I thank my colleagues on the Commerce Committee for prioritizing the safety and management of the Arctic region. Advancing this bill to the full Senate today is an important step towards developing a strategic plan to support safe maritime transportation in the Arctic.”

“The United States has a vital interest in the safety and security of the Arctic region – especially as a corridor for commerce and trade,” Senator Wicker said. “With greater cooperation among regional stakeholders, we can develop a comprehensive plan to preserve U.S. leadership in this region.”

“This is very important legislation to improve the reliability of arctic maritime transportation. This is important to both Senators Sullivan and Murkowski, and I've appreciated working with them on what will be an important aspect of future maritime transport,” said Senator Cantwell. “The United States cannot ignore the opening of the Arctic, and this bill will help us get solutions to move our products more safely through that region."

Arctic Shipping Federal Advisory Committee Act Details: 

The Arctic Shipping Federal Advisory Committee is tasked with developing a set of policy recommendations to enhance the United States’ leadership role in improving the safety and reliability of maritime transportation in the Arctic region. The bill also affirms that if a Special Representative for the Arctic Region is appointed by the Secretary of State, the representative will facilitate multilateral dialogues with the Arctic Council and encourage cooperation on Arctic maritime transportation as well as coordinate any plan recommendations by the Advisory Committee.  

Click here for full text of the bill. 

  • Membership: Comprised of 15 members representing federal agencies, the States of Alaska and Washington, Alaska Native tribes, coastal communities, subsistence co-management groups, and representatives from the shipping sector, the Advisory Committee will convene experts and stakeholders to develop recommendations for how the United States can lead in ensuring that shipping in the Arctic is safe, secure, and reliable.
  • Policy: The Advisory Committee is tasked to study options for U.S. leadership in Arctic shipping, including construction, operation, and maintenance of current and future maritime infrastructure needs, such as deep-water ports, for vessels transiting the Arctic Sea Routes. This tasking also includes determining services such as navigation and incident response that would improve maritime safety and environmental protection in the Arctic Region. The Committee is also mandated to consider the feasibility of a fee-for-service model to pay for necessary services for those who use the Arctic waterways
  • Report: The Advisory Committee is directed to submit a report, no later than 2 years after the enactment of this Act, with its recommendations to the Senate Commerce Committee and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. 


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