Sullivan Welcomes Reestablishment of DOE Arctic Energy Office at UAF

Announcement is part of a larger renaissance of Arctic research and activity

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) welcomed an announcement yesterday by Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette that the Department of Energy (DOE) will be reestablishing its Arctic Energy Office (AEO) on the campus of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks (UAF). The AEO will drive coordination and collaboration on DOE’s many activities in the Arctic region including: international cooperation on Arctic issues, research on methane hydrates, and development of advanced micro-grids and nuclear power systems, such as small modular reactors.  

“Realizing America’s role as an Arctic nation involves bringing more vessels, more research, more ports, and more personnel to the region—to Alaska—and the reestablishment of the Arctic Energy Office is an important development as we work to make that vision a reality,” said Senator Sullivan. “I commend Secretary Brouillette and Senator Murkowski for their work to bring this Arctic office back to life, and I look forward to the vital scientific research and coordination that will serve Alaskans, the nation, and our global partners as a result.” 

“The United States is an Arctic nation, and the region continues to play an essential role in meeting our Nation’s energy needs, as well as those of our friends and allies,” said Secretary Brouillette. “DOE’s Arctic Energy Office will grow to strengthen and coordinate our work in energy, science, and national security and help build an Arctic future of prosperity and increased opportunity.”

Consistent with DOE’s overall mission, the AEO will focus on energy, science, and national security. Rather than belonging to a particular program area, the AEO will report to the under secretary of energy, and coordinate DOE’s Arctic activities across the enterprise, bringing together DOE’s wide range of assets, stakeholders, and equities to serve communities and U.S. interests in the region. 

The office will be reestablished with three interim staff equipped with a wealth of experience across the energy, science, and national security spheres. More information on the office is available at: https://energy.gov/arctic/arctic-energy-office

Senator Sullivan has worked tirelessly to bring more resources, vessels and personnel to support Arctic activities and research in Alaska: 

  • In the 2018 Coast Guard Authorization Act, Senator Sullivan secured a provision that facilitates the construction of a viable home port in Ketchikan for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) research vessel Fairweather, which conducts hydrographic surveys and other maritime research responsibilities in Alaska’s waters.
  • In July, the Senate passed the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which included a Sullivan provision to establish a new “Ted Stevens Arctic Center for Security Studies,” the first Department of Defense (DOD) regional center in the Arctic and the first new DOD regional center since 2000. The center would be located in Alaska and would support defense strategy objectives and policy priorities through a unique academic forum, while also fostering strong international networks of security leaders.
  • In the FY 2019 NDAA, Sullivan secured a provision authorizing the construction of six new Polar-class icebreakers for the Coast Guard, and contracts have been awarded for the first two. Sullivan has also pressed senior Trump administration officials on the importance of home-porting the new icebreakers in Alaska. 
  • In May, the Army Corps of Engineers completed the Chief’s Report for the Modification Feasibility Study on the Port of Nome project, which would be America’s first deep draft port in the Arctic. The study, a precursor to constructing the project, based its justification upon authorization language from a Sullivan provision in the 2018 America’s Water Infrastructure Act.
  • Also in the FY 2019 NDAA, Sullivan included a provision requiring each branch of the Armed Forces to produce its own strategy for the Arctic region. In July, the U.S. Air Force released the first such document which Sullivan called the “most robust U.S. Arctic strategy document to date.” 
  • In July, Sullivan visited the R/V Sikuliaq, a 261-foot oceanographic research vessel home-ported in Seward, Alaska, that is owned by the National Science Foundation and operated by UAF’s College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences. Sullivan has worked to ensure as much of the maintenance and construction of vessels, like the Sikuliaq, as possible is conducted in Alaska and by Alaskans at some of the world-class facilities in communities like Seward and Ketchikan.
  • In December 2019, Senators Sullivan, Lisa Murkowski and Angus King (I-Maine) introduced S. 3080, the Strategic Arctic Naval Focus Act of 2019, legislation directing the federal government to recognize the importance of the Arctic region to America’s national and economic security interests, and to put forward a strategy for the U.S. fleet’s ability to operate in the Arctic and respond to challenges. 
  • In December 2019, with Senator Sullivan’s co-sponsorship and assistance, the Senate Commerce Committee marked up the Arctic Shipping Federal Advisory Committee Act, Senator Murkowski’s legislation to address the impacts and opportunities of increasing shipping and maritime traffic. The legislation establishes a 15-member federal advisory committee to develop recommendations for how the United States can lead in ensuring that shipping in the Arctic is safe, secure, and reliable.

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