March, 2015
March update
Moving Forward on Arctic and Cyber Issues
Forum Assembles Arctic Leaders
PNWER facilitates discussion between arctic stakeholders 
Alaskan Sens. Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski address the PNWER North American Arctic Leaders Forum
Alaskan Sensators Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski address the PNWER North American Arctic Leaders Forum

The Pacific NorthWest Economic Region (PNWER) hosted the Fourth Annual North American Arctic Leaders Forum on March 5 in the Russell Senate Office Building in an appropriately snow-covered Washington D.C. 

The forum included the entire Alaska congressional delegation, key representatives from the State of Alaska, the Northwest Territories, Alberta, U.S. and Canadian federal leadership, Alaska Natives and private sector stakeholders. It was an opportunity for participants to highlight areas in which the U.S. and Canada already coordinate successfully and to share how the arctic is becoming an increasingly vital region.

As in past years, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Alaska, was instrumental in developing the forum with PNWER. U.S. Rep. Don Young joined the forum and we were excited to hear from recently-elected U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan as well.

Prior to the forum, Sen. Murkowski held the first congressional hearing on the arctic in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Sen. Murkowski spoke about the need for bipartisanship from congress on the arctic. She also announced the formation of a U.S. Senate Arctic Caucus that will be co-chaired by Sen. Angus King, Maine.

Co-Chairs of the PNWER Arctic Caucus; Hon. David Ramsay, Northwest Territories, and Alaska's Sen. Lesil McGuire and Rep. Bob Herron, shared insights on the importance of North American leadership in arctic policy and the critical role the region plays in the U.S. and Canada. Sen. McGuire and Rep. Herron highlighted the recently-released Alaska Arctic Policy Commission Report.

Roundtable participants heard about the successes of the Canadian chairmanship of the Arctic Council from Denis Stevens, Deputy Head of Mission for the Embassy of Canada and former Consul General of Seattle.

Hon. Charlotte Brower, Mayor of the North Slope Borough, spoke about the importance of indigenous peoples and traditional knowledge in arctic policy.
Mayor Brower said her people have been adapting to the arctic's harsh climate for thousands of years.
Fran Ulmer, Chair of the U.S. Arctic Research Commission, outlined, policy themes the U.S. Arctic Council leadership will undertake for the next two years. Drue Pearce, Board of Directors Chair, Institute of the North, presented on the Arctic Economic Council (AEC) and gave a detailed overview of the structure of the council and the
role they play in arctic policy. 

John Higginbotham, Carleton University and
Senior Fellow, Centre for International
Governance Innovation (CIGI), closed out the session on the topic of transportation corridors. He gave an overview of the strategic planning Transport Canada is doing and how corridors in the arctic will be a priority for the national planning effort.

From left, U.S. Representative Don Young, Drue Pearce and Fran Ulmer discuss arctic policy at the Fourth Annual North American Arctic Leaders Forum.

Other key topics included the importance of a continued focus on economic development for people of the North and ensuring voices of Northern People are represented during federal decision-making.

From left, Hon. David Ramsay, PNWER president, Alaska Sen. Lesil McGuire, Jesse Logan, legislative aide at Alaska State Legislature and Alaska Rep. Bob Herron.

The PNWER Arctic Caucus Co-Chairs thanked everyone for their participation and invited them for an informative Arctic discussion at the upcoming PNWER Annual Summit in Big Sky, Montana, July 12-16, and a real winter meeting November 15-18, 2015 in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories.


Media Coverage:

Alaska Dispatch News: Murkowski, King seek to enlist other senators in an Arctic caucus

Portland Press Herald: Maine's Sen. King co-creates Arctic Caucus

Associated Press: On Congress' snow day, an Arctic hearing

Alaska Public Radio: Lower 48 senators see Arctic irony in Alaskan views

Alaska Dispatch News: Senate energy committee hearing exposes irony of Arctic opportunities


Emerald Down Cyber Security Workshop
Auburn, Washington
A panel on physical infrastructure, cyber systems and regional resilience was hosted by, from right: David Holcomb, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Laurence Eichhorn, Seattle Department of Transportation, John Adams Roach, Global Business Analysis and John D. Schelling, Washington State.

Cyber security experts from the private sector and federal, state and local governments shared invaluable insights on resiliency with more than 260 attendees of the Emerald Down IV: Puget Sound Cyber Security Workshop, held March 5 at Emerald Downs in Auburn, Washington. Funding for the event was provided by Washington Homeland Security Region 6.


Attendees learned about current threats and best practices in cyber defense, as well as the interaction of physical and cyber security.


Discussions allowed attendees to analyze potential weaknesses in their own security systems and how they would react to a regional disaster.


The conference also played an important role in connecting various agencies and private companies; helping to establish regional relationships vital to preparation and response to cyber threats.


"I think it's important to develop a strong regional network," said Joel Ware, with the City of Seattle's Emergency Management Communications. "Prior to a big event, we'll all be divided; the public and private entities. After a big disaster, we're going to have to work together."


The Pacific NorthWest Economic Region is currently working with the Idaho Department of Homeland Security to plan a cyber security tabletop to take place in Idaho in September, and is actively seeking grant funds for a Puget Sound 2016 cyber security tabletop exercise.  


Register for the PNWER 2015 Annual Summit at

2015 Pre-Summit and Post-Summit Tours announced
Pre-Summit Tour: Northwest Montana Industries Tour

Northwest Montana Industries Tour

Saturday, July 11 - Sunday, July 12

Start: Whitefish, MT 

End: Big Sky Resort, MT

Cost: TBD. Includes hotel accommodation for Friday and Saturday night, transportation, and most meals.


The Northwest Montana Industries Tour will give participants an in-depth introduction to key Montana industries; timber, technology, brewing, mining and petroleum research.  


The itinerary begins early Saturday morning in Montana's Flathead Valley, with stops at the Plum Creek Timber Company, SmartLAM Technologies Group and F. H. Stoltze Land and Lumber.


The group will then travel south to Bonner to visit the Old Bonner Mill site, currently being revitalized through creative entrepreneurship. No trip to Missoula is complete without a handcrafted Montana beverage, provided during a tour of the Old Bonner Mill site's next tenants, Kettlehouse Brewing Company, before dinner and an overnight stay in Butte.

In the morning the group will depart from Butte to tour the Montana Resources open pit copper mine and molybdenum mine mining operation and visit the Berkeley Pit. The group will also learn from experts at the Montana Tech Petroleum Engineering Department, who will share state-of-the-art research regarding oil extraction in the Bakken region. The tour will arrive in Big Sky on Sunday afternoon in time for registration and the Welcoming Reception.


Post-Summit Tour: Black Thunder Coal Tour

Black Thunder Coal Tour
Thursday, July 16 - Friday, July 17
Start: Big Sky Resort, MT
End: Billings, MT
Cost: TBD. Cost includes hotel accommodation for Friday and Saturday night, transportation, and most meals.

A once-in-a-lifetime experience to witness active coal mining operations. The tour departs Big Sky on the afternoon of July 16, after the 2015 Summit concludes. After spending the night in Billings, the group will travel to the Powder River Basin for an all-day tour of ArchCoal's Black Thunder operation.

Black Thunder is one of the largest coal-mining complexes in the world and was the first to ship 1 billion tons of coal. The mine produces roughly 10 percent of the domestic supply of coal and the machines used there are truly staggering in size.

The group will return to Billings late on Friday night. Attendees will need to arrange to depart from from Billings International Airport on Saturday, July 18.

Yellowstone Tours
One-day, two-day and three-day tours of Yellowstone National Park are under development. Check back soon!
 Thank you to our major sponsors for 2015: