The United States Coast Guard says funding proposed by President Barack Obama is important to their mission in Alaska.
Obama has proposed allocating $150 million towards planning and designing new Arctic icebreakers.
Coast Guard representatives say as the climate changes, the northern passage is opening, increasing the likelihood of a human or environmental disaster. There are currently two icebreakers in the USGS fleet. A third increases their ability to respond in the region.
“We need to make sure that we have enough surface infrastructure in the area in case anything goes wrong,” said chief warrant officer Allyson Conroy. “The Coast Guard is responsible for the care of the sea, sea life, as well as life at sea so again if anything happens, being able to have surface assets in the area helps save lives.”
The funding proposal is for the 2017 budget. If it’s approved, construction on a new icebreaker is expected to start in 2020.