Increased Arctic Presence Would Put Pressure on Coast Guard Budget, Ice Breaker Fleet

Posted April 30, 2014 at 9:16am

The U.S. Coast Guard will need to expand its presence in the Arctic year-round as oil and gas exploration and general maritime activity increase in the region, researchers say, but paying for such a presence is likely to be difficult as Congress wrestles with austere budgets, reports Roll Call .  

The resources the Coast Guard now has to respond to an oil spill are not sufficient for the Arctic, and its efforts to support planning and mitigation for a spill without a dedicated budget “are admirable but inadequate,” the National Research Council said in a recent report.  

The Department of Homeland Security has made its Arctic presence and strategy a priority, but funding shortfalls have kept it from shoring up its ice breaker fleet to the level officials say is needed to carry out duties in the region.  

The White House has requested about $1 billion for Coast Guard acquisitions in fiscal 2015, a figure that is nearly $300 million less than the fiscal 2014 enacted level.