Begich Solicits Alaskans on Changing Arctic, Disaster Preparedness

Holds roundtable with Alaska emergency response leaders

In an ongoing effort to reach out to Alaskans and be sure their voices are reflected in a national Arctic strategy, U.S. Senator Mark Begich today held a listening session with experts to discuss preparedness and mitigation efforts for climate change, coastal erosion, flooding, and sea level rise as a result of a warming Arctic.

Begich is chairman of the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Subcommittee on Emergency Management, Intergovernmental Relations and the District of Columbia.  He held the roundtable in response to the White House’s recently released National Strategy for the Arctic Regionand to give Alaskans the chance to comment.

“Alaska is ground zero for climate change and it is critical that Alaskans play an integral role in this conversation,” Begich said. “The administration’s strategy must reflect Alaskan priorities and experiences. I am pleased the White House has demonstrated that they understand the Arctic is a unique resource, but we must do more to make sure our Arctic communities are safe. Today’s roundtable was a good start to hear first-hand perspectives from Alaskans on how best to ensure that safety.”

Alaskans in communities across the Arctic have experienced the changing environment first-hand through shifting weather patterns, rising sea level, and an evolving ecosystem. The release of theStrategy also provides Alaskans with the opportunity to ensure our voices are heard and reflected in the development of the Arctic framework.

Attendees at the roundtable included:

Larry Hartig, Commissioner of the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation

Robert Forgit, FEMA Alaska Area Office Manager

Commander James Houck, United States Coast Guard

Fran Ulmer, chair of the US Arctic Research Commission

Contact:  Heather Handyside – (907) 350-4846