Planning for a Robust Infrastructure System in Alaska’s Arctic
Alaska Arctic Policy CommissionUnalaska/Dutch HarborAugust 2013
Vision and Goals
That, in Alaska’s Arctic,Planning address four aspects of access – legal, capital, infrastructure, knowledge; andInfrastructure address resilience, safety and costAnd that Infrastructure is the focus area to be addressed, and Planning the method with which it is addressed
Scope of Work
Ports, Harbors, Places of Refuge,& AnchoragesTelecommunications, Aids to Navigation, and Data Acquisition & SharingEmergency Management & ResponseTransportation & Access to ResourcesEnergy Extraction, Production& DeliveryHuman Resources, Workforce Development, Research, Education &TrainingCommunity & Economic Development
Facilitating Economic Development
Infrastructure contributes toeconomic growth(acting through both supply and demand) as well as a peoples’ quality of life. In an aggregate sense, the character and availability of infrastructure influences the marginal productivity of privatecapital.Atthe microeconomic level, this effect of infrastructure is seen specifically through:Reduced costs of production.Structuralimpact on demand and supply. Infrastructure contributes to diversification of the economy – in rural areas, for example, by facilitating growth of alternative employment and consumption possibilities.
Anew focus on the development ofaninfrastructuresystemis necessary and timely. Regionalizing such a system– at an Arctic level – allows planningto take place that recognizes local and communityconcerns, and leverages unique assets.The State of Alaska, then,can consideras a fundamental aspect of its Arctic policy the active development of Arctic infrastructure.
Aspects of Infrastructure
Logistics– The movement of goods and material in and out of thestate, and withinthe state.Communication– InAlaska’s Arctic, communications support domain awareness, vessel tracking, search and rescue operations, oil spill response activities, and much more.Energy–Alaska must address the infrastructure to move energyinternally toallow for cost effective development of resources and to minimize the high energycosts.Security–Planningfor this in Alaska’s Arctic should recognize the role ofDivision of Homeland Security, theU.S Coast Guard, as well as recently negotiated Search and Rescue, and Oil Spill Response, agreements made under the auspices of the Arctic Council.Access– Most importantly, all citizens, all businesses must have access to the infrastructure system, whether it is a road or a transmission line. Affordability is a critical underpinning of access.
Ports, Harbors, Places of Refuge, &Anchorages
An analysis of suitable locations for a deep draft Arctic port has been conducted by USACE and DOT&PF, and identified two locations (Port Clarence and Nome) for potential development. It is noted that other efforts are also underway, including to examine Cape Blossom and WainwrightThe Arctic Council has a number of projects underway that will provide a baseline assessment for marine infrastructure, including AMATIIThe Unified Plan identifies many of these resources, though there doesn’t seem to be much public awareness of this effortNew and updated nautical charts would facilitate this processA possible next step in reviewing marine infrastructure is a tiered system of evaluating these assetsPlanning should include social-ecological impact and benefit
Telecommunications, Aids to Navigation, and Data Acquisition &Sharing
An endemic challenge for much of Alaska, especially rural Alaska, endangering lives and prohibiting the direct and immediate flow of communication/knowledgeAlaska Marine Exchange AIS receivers are contributing to the body of knowledge, but multiple efforts exist that will facilitate greater Arctic domain awarenessCoast Guard challenged by lack of communications in Arctic, as part of its planning for forward base operationsPublic/private/academic data acquisition and sharing remains a challenge, though progress is being made in certain cases for specific issues or projectsHow is private sector addressing this issue? Maritime industry?Is there a central repository for data? How to make data accessible…
Emergency Management & Response
Public awareness of plans in place is minimalGreat deal of planning, exercises, research and other efforts being conducted to address this issue, and Alaska is involved throughout, at multiple levelsReference Unified Plan, Division of Homeland Security, bi-national and multi-national activities“Increasing Alaska’s capability to respond increases our opportunities for economic development.”
Transportation & Access toResources
Complicated by “nested” ownership of land and resourcesAdditionally challenged by public opinion driven by local concerns and outside interests, though this may have shifted over the last decadeBroad consensus to “do it right”New roads, and transportation infrastructure in general, haven’t seen the level of investment that the rest of the U.S. has experienced – cost vs. valueTransportation infrastructure facilitates access to resources, as well as the movement of peoples, goods, and services – fundamental building block of economic developmentAn Arctic lens applied would focus on coastal infrastructure and destinational shipping of future resources
Energy Extraction, Production &Delivery
“With great energy wealth comes great energy responsibility”Alaska’s continues to experience some of the highest costs for fuel, heating and power in the nation, which in some areas of Alaska’s Arctic equals the amount spent on a mortgage or rentAlaska boasts a dramatic supply of energy resources, most located far away from population centers, thereby not experiencing the economy of scale needed for developmentAlaska’s energy policy lacks a strategy for implementationLittle done in the way of value-added from energy resourcesAdditional research should examine how other remote areas in the Arctic address energy issues
Human Resources, Workforce Development, Research, Education &Training
Good examples of planning at Alaska Workforce Investment Board level, or within organizations such as the Alaska Process Industry Careers ConsortiumUniversity of Alaska system and regional colleges/training centers are great assets, but to what extent these are connected to vision of/plan for Arctic workforce development unclear“Jobs to Alaskans” a common refrain, in Alaska’s Arctic – where risk is multiplied – that must be accompanied by “most qualified”Bar for Alaska’s Arctic should be set high, when met Alaska could export its expertise and knowledgeNotenough attention being paid to unique Arctic environment, nor potential futureindustries/jobsAVTEC development of ice navigation simulator a shining example of preparing for the future
Community & EconomicDevelopment
Many of Alaska’s Arctic communities or regions have conducted Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies, as well as other community planning documents – these need to be reviewed and compiled for a more regional approachDCCED needs to be consulted for how it might implement an Alaska Arctic policy – what strategies might they include for addressing the priorities that come upEffective local governance – from city council to Borough – is necessary for community and economic development planning to reflect local realities
Planning for a Robust Infrastructure System in Alaska’s Arctic cannot be done independently of other Working Groups or State of Alaska agencies, nor without taking into consideration national and international efforts, including Department of Interior, U.S. Arctic Strategy and the Arctic Council.Next steps will be to qualify those lines of effort.