According to an Alaska Dispatch News article Friday, the Alaska Federation of Natives will celebrate the arrival of President Barack Obama on August 30th. President Obama will deliver a keynote address during the Department of State conference known as GLACIER that Republican US Senator Lisa Murkowski has announced she will attend. Senator Murkowski is particularly interested in the conference outcome after unveiling her Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015 in July. The President is expected to visit Kotzebue and Dillingham on the north and southwest coast of Alaska after addressing the conference, to convey his genuine concern with the issues facing Alaskans. The annual Alaska Federation of Natives Convention will take place from October 15th through 16th as well in Anchorage, Alaska and this celebration of President Obama is an eventful preface to the nation’s largest representative annual gathering of native peoples. During the convention, delegates address major policy issues, voting on guidelines and policy statements.
President Obama is expected to highlight the potential for development in the Arctic and to address the pressing need for climate action to curtail the effects of global warming in the region. According to President Obama, the glaciers and permafrost melting, storm surges engulfing villages and the sinking of homes into the ground are caused by the alarming rate of climate change in Alaska. In a White House message, Thursday, President Obama said that he will meet with Americans who, “deal with climate change every day.” Government officials from the European Union, India, China and Russia will also attend the State Department conference.
The Obama Administration and the EPA announced its Clean Power Plan on August 3rd in an effort to significantly reduce carbon pollution from power plant emissions. However, many activists look to the the Administration’s July 22nd approval of the Royal Dutch Shell permit to drill for oil in the Alaskan Arctic in disappointment. The expected exploration for an estimated 26 billion barrels of oil in the American Arctic has fueled protests and demonstrations by activists hoping to protect the fragile environment. For the Obama Administration, the forthcoming Department of State conference could be a turning point for Native Alaskans who hope for a resolution to the many issues faced as a result of climate change. For activists, October’s Alaska Federation of Natives Convention could prove to be a pivotal event for Arctic drilling decision making with advocacy that must now begin without delay.