King wants Maine to benefit from navigation through the Northwest Passage
King moderated a panel at the UArctic’s annual meeting, which met in Portland.
PORTLAND, Maine – The UArctic Assembly held its first-ever meeting in the lower 48 states and chose Portland as its host. Senator Angus King co-chairs the Senate Arctic Caucus and helped bring the assembly to Maine.
UArctic is a network of colleges and institutions in Arctic countries. The assembly included leaders from the US State Department, international tribes, and high-level Nordic government officials.
After meeting for two days at the University of Southern Mainethe group sat in a ballroom at the University of New England and discussed how to responsibly mine Arctic territory for the minerals needed to make batteries that store green energy, while preventing countries from mistreating the earth and its people.
Russia poses a challenge to the work of UArctic. While the three-day assembly is annual, King convened a special panel on Friday to discuss Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and what the massive Arctic nation’s unstable leadership could mean for interests. international.
The panel also talked about the Northwest Passage. King and his contemporaries believe it could open wide enough to accommodate ships within the next two decades due to climate change.
King believes this could bring substantial economic opportunity to Maine, which has the most northeastern ports in the United States.
“It takes about 15 days less to get to Europe from China or Asia via the North Pole via the Arctic Ocean than to go through the Panama Canal,” he said. “So it has huge opportunities in terms of transit and trade.”
“Right now, Arctic sailing doesn’t feel very real to me,” she said. “It’s happening, but not without icebreaker escorts. It’s dangerous, it’s largely uninsurable. From that perspective, economically, it doesn’t seem viable at the moment.”
Despite these prospects, Eidsness believed that Arctic trade would be noticeable in Portland.
“Will it ever be huge ships coming into Portland Harbor? I doubt it,” she explained. “I think it’s going to be smaller, a niche expedition. I think it’s going to grow.”
But Maine’s insertion into the Arctic conversation is attracting a lot of people.
James DeHart, US coordinator for the Arctic region at the State Department, was on King’s panel.
“What Maine is doing to get their name out there and try to grab opportunities early is great,” DeHart said. “And that reminds me of the basic principle that this administration has put in place, which is that national renewal and foreign policy success are intertwined. You cannot succeed abroad if you are not not strong in you, and vice versa.”
Diane Hirshberg leads economic research at University of Alaska at Anchorage and is part of UArctic. She took the long flight from Anchorage to attend the conference and thinks the Subarctic Mainers have reason to be proud of their confidence in this area.
“There are ways we can learn a lot, especially from our northern compadres, about how you do economic development better in remote and northern places,” she said.
Hirshberg thinks Maine, like Alaska, now has a place at the table to grow with Arctic nations.
More articles about NEWS CENTER Maine
Click here to sign up for the NEWS CENTER Maine Break Time Daily Newsletter.
For the latest breaking news, weather and traffic alerts, download the NEWS CENTER Maine mobile app.