Text: S.1566 — 111th Congress (2009-2010)All Information (Except Text)

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Introduced in Senate (08/03/2009)

1st Session
S. 1566

To create the American Arctic Adaptation Grant Program to prevent or mitigate effects of Arctic climate change, and for other purposes.


August 3, 2009

Mr. Begich introduced the following bill; which was read twice and referred to the Committee on Environment and Public Works


To create the American Arctic Adaptation Grant Program to prevent or mitigate effects of Arctic climate change, and for other purposes.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. Short title.

This Act may be cited as the “Arctic Climate Adaptation Act”.

SEC. 2. Findings.

Congress finds the following:

(1) The United States is an Arctic Nation with—

(A) an approximately 700-mile border with the Arctic Ocean;

(B) more than 100,000,000 acres of land above the Arctic Circle; and

(C) a broader area within the Arctic isotherm that encompasses most of the Bering Sea.

(2) The Arctic region of the United States—

(A) is home to an indigenous population which has subsisted for millennia on the abundance in marine mammals, fish, and wildlife, many of which are unique to the region;

(B) is known to the indigenous population as Inuvikput or the “place where we live”; and

(C) has produced more than 16,000,000,000 barrels of oil and, according to the United States Geological Survey, may hold an additional 30,000,000,000 barrels of oil and 220,000,000,000,000 cubic feet of natural gas, making the region of fundamental importance to the national interest of the United States.

(3) Temperatures in the United States Arctic region have warmed by 3 to 4 degrees Celsius over the past half-century, a rate of increase that is twice the global average.

(4) The Arctic ice pack is rapidly diminishing and thinning, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration estimates the Arctic Ocean may be ice free during summer months in as few as 30 years.

(5) Such changes to the Arctic region are having a significant impact on the indigenous people of the Arctic, their communities and ecosystems, as well as the marine mammals, fish, and wildlife upon which they depend.

(6) Such changes are opening new portions of the United States Arctic continental shelf to possible development for offshore oil and gas, commercial fishing, marine shipping, and tourism.

(7) Unprecedented storms over an area of Arctic waters that are now ice-free are eroding sections of Alaska shoreline at rates of 45 feet or more annually. Thawing permafrost is causing roads and the foundations of public buildings and homes to buckle. Entire Alaskan Arctic villages are at risk of serious erosion or of being washed into the sea.

(8) As many as 4 of Alaska’s coastal villages are at immediate risk and will face overwhelming relocation costs in the during the period from 2009 through 2014 as the lack of winter ice pack allows increased wave energy to erode beachfronts that are no longer held together by frozen soil. The Government Accountability Office estimates that relocation costs for those 4 villages will be $450,000,000 and that as many as 30 additional Alaskan coastal villages will face similar threats during the period from 2009 through 2019.

(9) A study conducted by the Government Accountability Office published in June 2009, states that “most of Alaska’s more than 200 Native villages were affected to some degree by flooding and erosion,” and recommends that “Congress may wish to consider designating or creating a lead Federal entity that could work in conjunction with the lead state agency to coordinate and oversee village relocation efforts”.

(10) A 2009 study by the University of Alaska’s Institute for Social and Economic Research concluded that the added adaptation costs for Alaska’s public infrastructure resulting from climate change impacts will range up to $6,000,000,000 by 2030.

(11) Coastal erosion and thawing permafrost threaten the public infrastructure, including airports which are often the only link to the outside world, roadways, and other basic utilities, of many of Alaska’s 267 incorporated communities, with an estimated adaptation cost in the tens of billions of dollars during the several decades following the date of the enactment of this Act.

(12) Additionally, rising ocean temperatures and increased ocean acidification result in changes in fish habitats and invasive fish species jeopardizing both Alaska’s commercial fisheries, which produce 60 percent of the United States commercial catch, and the subsistence hunting, fishing, and gathering that supplies as much as 90 percent of the protein supply for as many as 214 economically disadvantaged Alaskan Native villages from Metlakatla in the south to Point Barrow in the north.

SEC. 3. Definitions.

In this Act:

(1) DENALI COMMISSION.—The term “Denali Commission” means the Denali Commission established pursuant to section 303(a) of the Denali Commission Act of 1998 (42 U.S.C. 3121 note).

(2) PROGRAM.—The term “Program” means the American Arctic Adaptation Grant Program established under section 4(a).

SEC. 4. American Arctic Adaptation Grant Program.

(a) Establishment.—There is a established in the Department of Commerce a program to be known as the “American Arctic Adaptation Grant Program” to award grants to eligible entities to carry out eligible projects, as described in this section.

(b) Coordination.—

(1) IN GENERAL.—The Denali Commission shall—

(A) be the Alaska Project Coordinator for the Program; and

(B) select, administer, and coordinate projects awarded grants under the Program.

(2) CONSULTATION.—In carrying out its responsibilities as the Alaska Project Coordinator, the Denali Commission shall consult with affected communities, the State of Alaska, the United States Army Corps of Engineers, the University of Alaska, the Arctic Research Commission established pursuant to section 103 of the Arctic Research and Policy Act of 1984 (15 U.S.C. 4102), and the Inuit Circumpolar Council and the Northern Forum or successor organizations.


(A) ESTABLISHMENT.—The Denali Commission shall establish an Adaptation Advisory Committee composed of public and private members to advise the Denali Commission on climate adaptation needs and investments and on the award of grants under the Program.

(B) MEMBERSHIP.—The Adaptation Advisory Committee shall include one representative of each of the following:

(i) The Alaska Federation of Natives.

(ii) The Inter-Tribal Council.

(iii) The Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program of the University of Alaska.

(iv) The Alaska Associated General Contractors Association.

(v) The Alaska Department of Transportation.

(vi) The Alaska Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development.

(vii) The United States Army Corps of Engineers.

(viii) Organized labor.

(C) MEETINGS.—The Denali Commission shall meet with the Adaptation Advisory Commission not less often than once every 6 months.

(c) Other funds for grant awards.—To the extent practicable and appropriate, the Denali Commission may combine funds from the Program with awards from other appropriate Federal or State infrastructure development, construction, or maintenance programs to provide funds to carry out an eligible project.

(d) Eligible entity defined.—In this section, the term “eligible entity” means—

(1) the State of Alaska; or

(2) a borough and community organized under the Constitution of the State of Alaska.

(e) Eligible project defined.—In this section, the term “eligible project” means a project to repair, replace, or maintain an element of public infrastructure in a coastal or remote Alaskan village damaged or threatened by the effects of climate change, including flooding, storm surge, coastal or riparian erosion, melting permafrost, and land subsidence not associated with normal seasonal effects. An eligible project—

(1) may be designed to address—

(A) damage to a public transportation system and infrastructure or to a public or privately owned building;

(B) negative impacts to human health;

(C) interruption of natural migration cycles or disruption of habitats; or

(D) disruption of economic activities, including projects to develop new northern sea routes; and

(2) shall be of a permanent nature, and designed, built, and maintained to maximize sustainability and resiliency.

(f) Application.—An eligible entity seeking a grant under the Program shall submit an application to the Denali Commission at such time and in such manner as the Commission shall require. Each such application shall, at a minimum, include a complete description of—

(1) the eligible project proposed to be carried out with such grant; and

(2) the extent to which one or more effects of climate change have necessitated, or given ongoing and cumulative effects could necessitate, such eligible project.

(g) Selection criteria.—In selecting an eligible project to be carried out with a grant under the Program, the Denali Commission—

(1) may select the eligible project only if the eligible entity agrees—

(A) to submit to a directed process in which the staff of the Denali Commission provides technical assistance and guidance through the planning phase, design phase, and construction phase of the eligible project; and

(B) that not more than 25 percent of the grant funds may be used for administrative expenses; and

(2) shall give a preference to an eligible project that will be carried out with non-Federal funds to match the amount of the grant funds.

(h) Work plan.—The Denali Commission shall publish an annual work plan for the Program. Each such plan shall include—

(1) a description of each eligible project approved to receive a grant under the Program during the previous year;

(2) updates on the planning, design, and construction of each eligible project approved to receive such a grant in a prior year; and

(3) guidance to eligible entities seeking to obtain such a grant for the following year.

SEC. 5. Arctic research.

(a) Requirement To conduct research.—During fiscal year 2010, and in collaboration with the State of Alaska, the University of Alaska, and relevant agencies of the United States, the Denali Commission shall conduct research on the best practices for climate related adaption that are being used or researched by other polar nations or foreign or domestic research institutions or institutions of higher learning, and which could be used by Arctic communities in Alaska. Such research shall focus on—

(1) environmentally sensitive design;

(2) clean energy alternatives; and

(3) innovative transportation, tele­com­mu­ni­ca­tions, and other infrastructure solutions.

(b) Report.—Not later than December 31, 2010, the Denali Commission shall submit to Congress, the Secretary of Commerce, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works), and the Governor of Alaska a report on the research carried out under subsection (a).

SEC. 6. Authorization of appropriations.

(a) American Arctic Adaptation Grant Program.—There is authorized to be appropriated to the Secretary of Commerce such sums as may be necessary to carry out the Program.

(b) Research.—There is authorized to be appropriated $5,000,000 for fiscal year 2010 to carry out section 5.