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Executive Summary for October 7th

We review the latest Arctic news, including a new offshore oil discovery in Alaska and Canada’s plan to limit carbon emissions.

Published on Oct. 7, 2016 Read time Approx. 3 minutes

Alaska Oil Reserves Boosted By New Offshore Discovery

A Dallas-based oil company has found about 6 billion barrels of oil off the coast of Alaska, boosting the state’s reserves by 80 percent, Bloomberg reported.

The deposit, located in the shallow waters at Smith Bay, between Prudhoe Bay and Barrow, could produce as much as 200,000 barrels of “light, highly mobile oil” per day, according to a statement released Tuesday by Caelus Energy LLC. If correct, that would make it the most productive oil field in Alaska, the Alaska Dispatch News reported.

Alaska’s oil production has been in decline. After peaking at more than 2 million barrels per day in 1988, production slowed to 483,000 barrels per day in 2015, according to Bloomberg.

Meanwhile, 14 U.S. senators have written to President Obama, asking him to ban offshore oil drilling rigs in the Arctic, Alaska Public Radio reported. The letter, which was not signed by any Republicans, asks the president to permanently exclude the Arctic and Atlantic from offshore oil and gas leasing in federal waters. The Caelus Energy find is in state waters and would not be affected by a federal ban on leases.

Northern Territories Leaders Get Behind Canada’s Carbon Emissions Plan

Some of Canada’s northern leaders are now on board with the country’s plan to cut carbon emissions to mitigate the effects of climate change, reported the Canadian Press.

The federal government introduced a plan on Monday that will require all provinces and territories to have a carbon pricing plan in place by 2018.

In the months leading up to the announcement, ministers for the Yukon, Northwest and Nunavut territories were opposed to the idea. The cost of living in the north is already more expensive than the rest of Canada and food must be shipped in using fossil fuels.

The ministers of the Northwest Territories and Nunavut now say that following discussions with environment and climate change minister Catherine McKenna, they remain open-minded. Yukon premier Darrell Pasloski says he remains against the deal, according to the Canadian Press.

Updating infrastructure to reduce communities’ reliance on diesel generators is one way for the territories to reduce carbon emissions.

Canada will impose a carbon price of $7.50 (CAN$10) per tonne of carbon in 2018 in every province and territory to rise to $38 (CAN$50) per tonne in 2022.

A policy statement released by Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami cautions the federal government’s approach to imposing a carbon pricing program, reported Nunatsiaq News. The national Inuit organization recommends a “comprehensive policy analysis examining how existing and emerging carbon pricing policies affect or will affect Inuit communities across Inuit Nunangat.”

Visions of an Inuit-Owned Pan-Arctic Fiber-Optic Network

There is a new proposal to establish an Inuit-owned fiber-optic cable network across northern Canada, reported the Nunatsiaq News.

The plan, tabled by the western Nunavut group, the Nunavut Resources Corp., would see a cable stretched from Tuktoyaktuk in the west to Chisasibi in James Bay and on to Goose Bay, Labrador. It would be owned by the four Inuit birthright organizations and financed by federal infrastructure funding and third-party investments. If successful, the project would bring broadband to the Canadian Arctic.

Nunavut relies on satellite technology to provide internet access to the 31,000 people who live in 25 communities. The connection can be unreliable in times of bad weather or if it becomes overloaded, reported the Financial Post.

Broadband internet could connect schools and hospitals, improve free access at libraries and help entrepreneurs and other small businesses, Iqaluit mayor Madeleine Redfern told the Financial Post.

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