- Associated Press - Saturday, February 22, 2014

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) - In the lead-up to this year’s elections, The Associated Press plans to publish an occasional list featuring the positions of the highest-profile Alaska U.S. Senate candidates on different issues.

The focus this time is the Arctic.

The White House recently released an implementation plan for its Arctic strategy, which includes broad goals of advancing U.S. security interests, pursuing responsible stewardship and strengthening international cooperation. U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said it falls short. She and other critics say the U.S. is lagging behind other Arctic nations in its vision and activity.

The U.S. has aging icebreakers, and officials in Alaska have raised concerns about the level of Coast Guard presence that will be needed as activity in the Arctic increases.

On Feb. 14, Secretary of State John Kerry notified Alaska's U.S. senators, Murkowski and Democrat Mark Begich, that he planned to name a “high-level individual of substantial stature and expertise” to serve as special representative for the Arctic Region. Both had been pressing for an ambassador or envoy to the Arctic. Kerry said he hoped to get input from them in creating the post and finding the right person.

Begich called it an important step in the right direction. Murkowski she wants to ensure the person who holds the job is on par with other nations’ Arctic ambassadors and sitting at the table with them.

The campaigns of Begich and Republicans Joe Miller, Dan Sullivan and Mead Treadwell were asked the following questions:

How does the U.S. catch up to other nations when it comes to the Arctic? Can it still catch up? Please be specific in your response.

What role should the state of Alaska play when it comes to the Arctic, including in planning, infrastructure or funding?

- Sen. Mark Begich, first-term incumbent: “As chairman of the Oceans Subcommittee, I’ve pushed the administration to stop paying lip service to the Arctic and put substantial resources into new icebreakers, a deep-water port, and infrastructure necessary for Alaska to seize the economic opportunities from a warming Arctic.

“I’m pleased the administration recently acted on my proposal to create an Arctic ambassador to elevate our role in the Arctic. I used my seat on the Appropriations Committee to bring the Polar Star icebreaker back in service, build new national security cutters, and launch an Arctic port study. I passed bipartisan legislation to better fund Alaska Coast Guard facilities. Working with Sen. Murkowski and Congressman Young, I will continue to fight for revenue sharing from Alaska's offshore development, ratify the Law of the Sea treaty, and expand the Arctic science program.

“I will use my seniority to ensure Alaskans who call the Arctic home have a voice in these decisions and our state is a leader in Arctic commerce.”

- Joe Miller, Republican nominee in the 2010 U.S. Senate race won with a write-in campaign by Murkowski: “As your senator, my Arctic policy will have four strategic objectives. National Integrity: Our sovereignty is under constant attack by elites trying to impose their global agenda on our state. To fight this, one of my top priorities will be defeating the U.N.’s Law of the Sea Treaty. Unlike all my opponents who have expressed support for LOST, I will do everything within my power as a senator to fight this UN power grab in the Arctic. No international bureaucracy should ever be allowed to tax and regulate Alaska businesses, impose ‘climate change’ and pollution controls on us, and redistribute our technology and wealth.

“National Security: With the balance of world power shifting, the Arctic will play a leading role with respect to national security. Cooling relations with Russia, China, North Korea, and other potentially hostile regimes in East Asia make Alaska absolutely crucial to national defense.

“State Sovereignty: Federal control of Alaska's land and resources, a huge portion of which falls north of the Arctic Circle, should be ceded to the state of Alaska. It’s time to gain full recognition of Alaska's status as a sovereign state under our Statehood Compact.

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