Begich Sponsors Amendment to Spur Arctic Deep Water Port Development

Creates Opportunities for Alaskan Involvement

As the Senate considers a major bill to authorize ports, navigation, and flood control projects nationwide today U.S. Sen. Mark Begich joined with Sen. Lisa Murkowski to offer an amendment designed to spur development of a deep water port in the Arctic by giving the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers authority to engage in expanded partnerships with local, tribal and borough governments.

“There is a growing need for a deep water port in the region because as the Arctic sea ice recedes, oil and gas development is increasing and maritime shipping is expanding,” Begich said. “But we can’t just rely on the federal government to come up with the funds to build a deep water port. This amendment would allow the Army Corps, which has decades of experience in port development, to work with state, local and tribal governments to develop a deep water port in the Arctic. In addition to being fiscally responsible, it will also allow local communities to have a greater say in when, where and how arctic ports will be developed.”

The amendment, offered to the Water Resources Development Act of 2013 expected to pass the Senate this week, would allow the Corps to partner with state or local governments to plan, design, construct or maintain deep water ports in the Arctic region. Begich introduced a similar bill in February, the Arctic Deep Water Ports Enhancement Act, which also encouraged private sector development. The Arctic Deep Water Ports Enhancement Act included the public private partnership language as well as provisions to streamline environmental review and provide federally-backed loans to encourage private development.

Original Article: Alaska Business Monthly