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Alaska Dispatch publisher speaks on Arctic investment

Alaska Dispatch

Alice Rogoff, former Chief Financial Officer of U.S. News and World Report and publisher of Alaska Dispatch, told the Juneau World Affairs Council on Saturday that a major financial firm is interested in investing in the development of Arctic infrastructure, according to the Juneau Empire.

Rogoff, speaking to the Council's "Politics of Global Climate Change" forum at the University of Alaska Southeast, said that the Guggenheim Partners, a major financial services firm, is creating an Arctic investment fund worth billions, the Empire said.

On Sunday, Guggenheim Partners said in a statement that it "is evaluating the development of a fund which could invest in the Arctic."

Alaska Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, who was in attendance at the Saturday conference, said that the investment was welcome news for the sole Arctic state in the U.S., pointing out that the nearest deepwater port to the Alaska Arctic is in Dutch Harbor, some 900 miles south.

One of the ideas that Rogoff presented as a possibility was construction of a privately funded icebreaker that would then be leased to the U.S. Coast Guard. The idea is similar to one that was presented at the Arctic Imperative conference in June. At that conference, Sen. Lesil McGuire suggested that Alaska should construct its own icebreaker, although not necessarily lease it to the Coast Guard.

According to the Juneau Empire, a former Coast Guard member attending the forum said that the idea of a privately-funded icebreaker would be impractical for an organization that would require a fully-funded icebreaker during wartime.

The Coast Guard has lobbied hard recently for repairs or replacement of its aging icebreaker fleet. The fleet only has one icebreaker currently operational, and both of its heavy icebreakers are currently sidelined in Seattle.

In July, an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal outlined the potential of Alaska's Arctic both for the state and the U.S. Read "Time to Take Alaska Out of the Icebox."