As we continue to respond to the wreckage left by Typhoon Merbok and prepare for the harsh winter ahead, we are grateful. While the storm has been devastating, we will recover. Our communities, friends and neighbors came together and reminded us all why we are blessed to live in rural Alaska. The outpouring of support we have received across Alaska, from our dedicated first responders to everyday Alaskans, also shows the best of our great state. When disaster strikes, Alaskans are there for each other. Above all, Gov. Mike Dunleavy and the congressional delegation showed true leadership and rolled up their sleeves for Alaskans. I want to especially thank Governor Mike Dunleavy, Senator Lisa Murkowski and Congresswoman Mary Peltola for their visit to the region and their heartfelt listening.
But our delegation is not content to simply respond to this crisis. They continue to look to the future and advocate for policies and projects that will both improve the resilience of our communities and respond to a rapidly changing Arctic. While most Americans don’t think about the Arctic until cable news captures impending doom, our delegation ensured the Arctic remained relevant and unforgettable in the halls of our great country’s Capitol. in Washington, DC Sen. Murkowski and Sen. Dan Sullivan brought attention to the Arctic through his dynamic combination of unique roles and positions in Congress. On the Senate Armed Services and Commerce Committees, Senator Sullivan ensures that the Arctic is a vital part of our national security and defense strategies. From her leadership position on the Appropriations Committee, Senator Murkowski delivered the real dollars that turn authorities into real infrastructure, icebreakers and deployments.
During Typhoon Merbok, we saw several ships, including two cruise ships, seek refuge from the storm in the deep, protected waters of Port Clarence. Our delegation has long understood the need for a strategic system of ports and harbors throughout the Arctic and the unique role that Port Clarence plays in this system. These needs will only increase with the increase in maritime traffic, in particular with the increase in the transit of Russian tankers through the Bering Strait en route to China. The senses. Murkowski, Sullivan and our dear late Congressman Don Young not only advocated for the necessary infrastructure, they always ensured that local communities were included in the processes and benefits of these developments.
The Arctic Commitment Act recently introduced by Senator Murkowski keeps our communities at the forefront as he seeks to curb Russian advances in the Arctic. This bipartisan legislation, co-sponsored by another Arctic champion, Senator Angus King, is a desperately needed comprehensive approach to ensure Arctic communities and people have a voice and play an important role. in the development of the Arctic. By integrating defence, commerce, research, response, and infrastructure, the Arctic Commitment Act provides an integrated vision for the Arctic while advocating for the institutional reforms needed in federal agencies to implement that vision. This is an essential starting point, and we look forward to working with Senator Murkowski and Senator King on the bill as it moves through Congress.
Typhoon Merbok is certainly not the last storm that will threaten our region. Our changing climate and the geostrategic importance of our region will create increasingly complex challenges for our region, our people and our state. But with leadership that listens, engages, and genuinely supports our people, we will not only recover, but reinvigorate our region to support a peaceful and prosperous Arctic.
Gail R. Schubert is President and CEO of Bering Strait Native Corp.
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