Senator Mark Begich met today with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary nominee Jeh Johnson to ensure that Alaska issues, especially an Arctic strategy and the changing role of the Coast Guard, are a priority for the nominee.
"The Department of Homeland Security has a role in both preventing and responding to threats and disasters and I want to make sure that Alaska is incorporated in all of their efforts," said Sen. Begich. "We are entering a new era of Arctic activity with new shipping routes and major increases to maritime traffic. The Coast Guard has effectively been tasked with taking responsibility for a whole new ocean and I want to know that DHS is able to work seamlessly with the Coast Guard and other agencies in the event of a maritime accident or spill."
During the meeting, Begich stressed the importance of the new Arctic Strategy and pushed for DHS to fully engage in its emerging role in the Arctic.
"Unlike many other nominees I interview, Jeh Johnson has already visited Alaska twice and already understands our unique challenges and opportunities," said Sen. Begich.
Sen. Begich is a member of the Senate Homeland Security Committee with jurisdiction over DHS, a department with more than 200,000 employees and 22 agencies including the Transportation Security Agency (TSA), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the U.S. Coast Guard (USCG). DHS works to protect the United States and to prepare for, prevent, and respond to domestic emergencies, particularly terrorism.