April 26, 2018 —
The U.S. Coast Guard is seeking public comment for an environmental impact statement (EIS) in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act regarding the acquisition of polar icebreakers. The public comment period extends from April 30 through June 29. The service will host public scoping events in Anchorage, Utqiagvik (Barrow), Nome and Korzebue, Alaska, in May.
The current icebreaker fleet has exceeded or is nearing the end of its service life. The Coast Guard intends to design, build and operate up to six polar icebreakers. The new icebreakers would provide a variety of support to Coast Guard operations and responsibilities, including shore/sea/air operations, training exercises and tribal/local engagement. The proposed action areas would include the Arctic, Antarctic and the Pacific Northwest. The icebreakers would also transit between these areas and resupply at U.S. and international ports. The first new icebreaker is expected to be delivered in 2023.
Based on preliminary analyses using the best available science, the Coast Guard evaluated the potential impact on marine vegetation, invertebrates, fish, sea turtles, marine mammals, seabirds and shorebirds. No significant impact to biological resources is expected.
Public input will help the Coast Guard identify issues, alternatives and potential environmental impacts to be analyzed in the polar icebreaker EIS. The public can submit written comments at any of the public meetings or through the Federal Register.
Public meetings will be held at the following locations:
May 7 – 1:30-3:30 p.m, Mini-Convention Center, 409 River St., Nome
May 9 – 1:30-3:30 p.m., Northwest Heritage Center, 171 Third Ave., Kotzebue
May 11 – 1:30-3:30 p.m., Hilton Anchorage, 500 W. Third Ave., Anchorage
May 14 – 1-3 p.m., Inupiat Heritage Center, 5421 North Star St., Barrow
For more information, see the Federal Register notice here or the Arctic Waterways Safety Committee handout here.
For more information: Polar Icebreaker program page