Those of us who don't live in Alaska probably don't think about our country this way, but the United States is an Arctic Nation. And because we share this complex and sensitive region with other nations, the Obama Administration has articulated our strategic priorities in the region with a new National Strategy for the Arctic Region.
In addition to identifying near term priorities, the Strategy also lays the foundation for future development as new challenges emerge. It recognizes and builds upon the outstanding work to date by 22 Federal agencies, the State of Alaska, and local and tribal governments. And it seeks to promote greater unity of effort among these stakeholders.
The new strategy makes it clear that--on land and sea--the U.S. intends to advance our own security interests, pursue responsible stewardship of the region, and strengthen international cooperation.
How does that involve the Department of Transportation?
As portions of the Arctic Ocean become more navigable, there is increasing interest in the viability of the Northern Sea Route and other potential routes, as well as in development of Arctic resources. Pursuing those activities, however, requires developing and maintaining infrastructure--whether it's ports, pipelines, or navigational aids.
We intend to further develop Arctic waterways management regimes to--first and foremost--ensure transportation safety. Management will include traffic separation schemes, vessel tracking, and ship routing, in collaboration with our partners. This cooperation will facilitate strategic partnerships that promote innovative, low-cost solutions to enhance the Arctic marine transportation system and the safe, secure, and efficient flow of trade.
Of course, for all of the opportunities emerging with increased accessibility through the Arctic, its opening also presents very real challenges with potentially profound environmental consequences. The Arctic is a rapidly changing region, and the President understands that economic development and environmental stewardship must go hand in hand.
That's why this new strategy makes it clear that coordinated development is imperative.
This collaboration will assist in guiding investments and regional activities that promote sustainable development. We will work with our partners to develop new mechanisms to keep the Arctic region environmentally sustainable and operationally safe.
The opening of the Arctic Region offers the world exciting new opportunities--for navigation and trade, for economic development, for scientific exploration and research. The Administration's new National Strategy for the Arctic Region establishes that we proceed in carefully considered steps to foster prosperity while promoting safe navigation through new innovative thinking that embraces creative, cooperative models.