President Obama has chosen former Alaska Lieutenant Governor Frances Ulmer to chair the Arctic Research Commission for the next four years. Currently, she is chancellor of the University of Alaska Anchorage. She also served as one of the seven members on the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill. Ulmer studied political science and economics at the University of Madison, Wisconsin before going on to receive her J.D. from the university’s law school. Ulmer will bring over thirty years of experience in politics to the commission.
In a press release, Ulmer said, “I am honored to serve as the Chair of the USARC, particularly during this time of increased attention on the Arctic and the rapid changes being observed in the region… I look forward to working with the other commissioners and staff, and the many people in the public and private sectors who are keenly interested in the Arctic.”
Ulmer will work to advance USARC’s scientific efforts in the High North at a time when its $400 million budget is being severely stretched. Understanding the impact of oil spills in the region is one of the main goals of USARC right now, so Ulmer’s work on the Deepwater Horizon investigation should prove useful. Ulmer has also chaired the Alaska Coastal Policy Council, which helps to implement policies on usage of Alaska’s 33,000 miles of coastline. In addition, she has served on the North Pacific Anadromous Fish Commission, a multilateral organization including Canada, the U.S., Russia, South Korea, and Japan, which seeks to conserve fish that are born in freshwater but spend most of their lives in saltwater except when spawning, like salmon. This combination of experience led Senator Mark Begich (D-Alaska) to recommend Ulmer to lead USARC. He applauded her appointment, saying,
“Fran brings an intimate knowledge of the Arctic’s environment, efforts to promote economic development in the region and the need for the U.S. to be a leader in the Arctic. Having her as Chair of the Commission will help further our nation’s efforts to expand our role and harness our potential as an Arctic nation.”
Coincidentally, the current Alaska Lieutenant Governor, Mead Treadwell, once chaired the Arctic Research Commission. I guess this brings a new twist to the political term “revolving door.”
“Obama names Ulmer chairwoman of Arctic commission,” Juneau Empire
“Begich Praises Appointment of Ulmer to Chair Arctic Research Commission,” Alaska Business Monthly
“President Obama appoints Fran Ulmer as Chair of the US Arctic Research Commission,” USARC (PDF)