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Can Alaska lead the way in crafting Arctic policy for nation?

The Alaska Legislature is hanging out a "help wanted" sign for the job of creating Alaska's Arctic policy.

The 20-member Alaska Arctic Policy Commission, formed by the Legislature this year, will be tasked with making recommendations on an Arctic policy for Alaska by January of 2014 and deliver a final decision the following year.

While the commission contains six legislators — three from the house and three from the senate — as well as a member appointed by the governor, legislators are looking for 13 members to represent various factions of the state, from a mining industry representative to a tribal entity representative.

Rep. Reggie Joule, D-Kotzebue, who was on the Legislature's Alaska Northern Waters Task Force, said applicants should be ready to devote time and energy to the commission.

"It's going to be a lot of work, but I think it would be interesting work," Joule said.

While the United States has an official written Arctic Policy, Alaska does not, unlike most Arctic states, including the Northwest Territories in Canada.

Joule said that the Alaska Arctic policy was important in that it could impact the nation's Arctic policy moving forward.

"This is all taking place in an international arena. I think it's going to be a challenge, but it's going to be very worthwhile," Joule said.

Hopefully, candidates, who will be appointed jointly by the president of the Senate and the speaker of the House, will come to the table with some experience with Arctic policy issues, but also with a wide interest range to draw from, Joule said. Interest has already started coming in from some organizations.

Joule said he expected work to move forward later this summer or early in the fall, and he and others interested in the commission moving forward said they are spreading the word among potential candidates.

"I think it's going to be probably one of the more important things we can do for our state moving forward," Joule said, "looking at the Arctic and the impact that it's going to have."

The appointed members will include a member of each of the following: the federal government, a tribal entity, the mining industry, the oil and gas industry, an accredited Alaska university, fisheries, a local government, a coastal community with experience in a coastal management program, an international Arctic organization, a conservation group, marine transportation and logistics, a Native corporation and a licensed marine pilot.

Those interested in serving as a public member of the Arctic Policy Commission should send a letter of interest and a resume to the following addresses: Senate President Gary Stevens, 305 Center Ave., Suite No. 1, Kodiak, AK 99615; Speaker of the House Mike Chenault, 145 Main St. Loop, No. 223, Kenai, AK 99611.

This article was originally published in The Arctic Sounder and is reprinted here with permission. Carey Restino can be reached at crestino(at)reportalaska.com.