Russia is extending its influence in Arctic by engaging in shipping and drilling rights on a more aggressive scale, according to the U.S. government.
The Arctic is crucial for energy and minerals for the globe, according to the U.S. But for Russia, China and North Korea, it's hugely important for shipping and infrastructure projects as well.
The U.S. State Department has released a massive plan to reverse a decline in Arctic fishing that reflects those aspirations, both to protect the region and boost America's competitiveness in a competitive global economy.
The new U.S. Arctic Plan foresees a halving of Russia's freight shipping between 2014 and 2020, and tripling of North American cargo services.
The plan also envisions an increase in U.S. air cargo service from 400 to 5,000 flights a year.
The U.S. plan intends to promote the expansion of sea routes that are more efficient than shipping because of calmer weather, shorter travel times and more fuel efficiency.
The U.S. government predicts that the ice cap will thaw soon, raising melting sea levels, and boosting competition with China and North Korea over shipping routes and shipping routes.
China's interest in the Arctic is a serious one, according to media outlets as wide-ranging as Wall Street Journal to the < href="http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/one-country-roadmap-to-a-changed-map-happening-much-so-far-in-the-thousand-far-nights" target="_blank">China Daily
Three years ago, the U.S. Geological Survey mapped a massive stretch of seabed extending from Alaska north to Canada. The USGS estimate of 1.1 billion tons of oil and other fossil fuels on that remote oil and gas belt was more than double previous estimates and grew the world's fossil fuel deposits by 15 percent, China News Service reported.
"A deeper understanding of the rich hydrocarbon deposits of the Arctic allows the prospect of large hydrocarbon exports from the Northern Hemisphere to the rest of the world," China's Ministry of Transport stated in a report by the China Daily.
Chinese shippers are interested in the passing ships while a Chinese state-owned energy company has proposed to build a special pipeline from Siberia to Beijing.
U.S. fisheries are in decline due to a combination of growing competition from China and northern Russia, as well as to climate change, according to the U.S. government.
One study projected that about 75 percent of Arctic fish habitat will be lost by 2050.
Other U.S. proposals seek to assess and protect the unique birds, fish and other wildlife in the Arctic, while maintaining shipping and drilling infrastructure in the region and to restore damaged hunting and fishing grounds.
The Arctic Commission was established to help mitigate the potential impacts of increased shipping and drilling, but the report from the U.S. government concludes that more substantial effort is needed.
In a region where human influence on energy prices and fisheries are especially important, Russia and Canada have separately backed a large gas pipeline to Europe that is modeled on an existing pipeline that transports natural gas to Russia and Asia.
Long-distance shipping is an important part of Russia's energy business, but last year a British report suggested that the costs of a proposed US$50 billion pipeline would dwarf profits from what Russia would receive, Reuters reported.
The oil and gas pipelines, pipelines and tankers are at odds with a 2010 Arctic Circumpolar Strategy that called for a shift toward low-carbon development, and reversing greenhouse gas emissions before the world faced "world calamity," which was likely to come by 2100, the report said.
The report also called for full implementation of the national rules for oil and gas production in the Arctic, but that ban is being challenged by the oil and gas industry.
As the U.S. emerges from a two-year presidential campaign, word that a final decision is not expected until next year has surfaced.
But as that plan has been rejected by the Obama administration, it's up to the next president to determine the future of the Arctic. And therefore what impacts the Arctic will have on the U.S.
U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that oil reserves in the Arctic region have already increased by 40 percent since 2012. But peak offshore oil production could come from 2016 to 2024.