3 Issues Obama Should Discuss, Besides Climate Change, as He Heads to the Arctic

31 Aug 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Not everyone is happy with Obama renaming Mount McKinley.

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama will change the identify of North America’s tallest mountain peak from Mount McKinley to Denali, the White Home stated Sunday, a serious symbolic gesture to Alaska Natives on the eve of the president’s historic go to to Alaska. By renaming the height Denali, an Athabascan phrase which means “the excessive one,” Obama waded right into a delicate and decades-old battle between residents of Alaska and Ohio. Alaskans have informally referred to as the mountain Denali for years, however the federal authorities acknowledges its identify invoking the 25th president, William McKinley, who was born in Ohio and assassinated early in his second time period. “With our personal sense of reverence for this place, we’re formally renaming the mountain Denali in recognition of the traditions of Alaska Natives and the robust help of the individuals of Alaska,” stated Inside Secretary Sally Jewell. Obama flies to Anchorage on Monday morning for a three-day tour of the nation’s largest state, closely choreographed to call attention to the ways Obama says climate change is already damaging Alaska’s stunning scenery.

By showcasing thawing permafrost, melting sea ice and eroding shorelines, Obama hopes to raise the sense of urgency to deal quickly to slow climate change in the US and overseas. Far before it became Mount McKinley, members of the Native American Koyukon tribe had dubbed the 20,000-foot mountain Denali, which fittingly means “the high one” in the tribe’s Athabascan language. There is a reason President McKinley’s name has served atop the highest peak in North America for more than 100 years, and that is because it is a testament to his great legacy. The president was additionally anticipated to announce new steps to assist Alaska Native communities on Wednesday when he turns into the primary sitting president to go to the Alaska Arctic.

Prior efforts by Alaska’s leaders to vary the identify date again to 1975, however have been stymied by members of Ohio’s congressional delegation. At 20,320 ft, the mountain stands because the continent’s tallest, and continues to be rising at a fee of about one millimeter per yr, based on the Nationwide Park Service. Yet Obama was to navigate far more turbulent political waters when he arrived Monday afternoon in Anchorage, where his grand declarations on climate change have been met with skepticism by leaders in a state that’s heavily dependent on oil revenues that have fallen precipitously. Recognized for its majestic views, the mountain is dotted with glaciers and coated on the prime with snow year-round, with highly effective winds that make it troublesome for the adventurous few who search to climb it. Upon listening to the information that McKinley, a Republican, had acquired his social gathering’s nomination to be president, the prospector named it after him and the identify was formally acknowledged.

The mountain’s name has been a source of tension between Alaskans and lawmakers in McKinley’s (and Boehner’s) home state of Ohio, who have clung tightly to the name ever since it was formally passed in 1917. Alaskans continue to refer to the peak as Denali, and have had a standing request to officially change the name back since 1975, when the state’s legislature passed a resolution but saw its efforts thwarted by an Ohio congressman. They took particular offense at his administration’s move just a few weeks ago to give Royal Dutch Shell a final permit for expanded drilling off Alaska’s northwest coast. “I share people’s concerns about offshore drilling. Yet he said the economy still had to rely on oil and gas while it transitions to cleaner renewable fuels, and said his administration was ensuring risks were minimized. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican, sought to shift attention back to Alaska’s energy needs. “I want to highlight one aspect of Arctic policy that I hope will be at the forefront of the discussion: the people who live in the region, and their need for sustainable economic activity,” Murkowski said, praising oil revenues for funding advances in medicine, communications and basic infrastructure.

Obama and Kerry are intensely focused on a global climate treaty that nations hope to finalize in December, as the president works to secure his environmental legacy before leaving office. The president has pledged a US cut in greenhouse gas emissions of up to 28 percent by 2030, compared to 2005 levels, and planned to use the Alaska visit to press other nations to commit to similarly ambitious measures. Board on Geographic Names had been deferring to Congress since 1977, and cited a 1947 regulation that permits the Inside Division to vary names unilaterally when the board fails to behave “inside an inexpensive time.” The board shares duty with the Inside Division for naming such landmarks.

His visit continues Wednesday in Dillingham, in southwest Alaska, where Obama will meet with fishermen locked in an ongoing conflict with miners over plans to build a massive gold and copper mine in Bristol Bay, home to the world’s largest salmon fishery.

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