Elected officials and businesses in Maine are looking to secure a strong role and benefits for the Pine Tree State as the Arctic opens up to increasing trade and human activity.
A recent report by the Portland Press Herald notes that Arctic activity could benefit the state economically through new opportunities for Maine climate researchers and businesses involved in advance materials, construction, maritime transportation, renewable energy, and logistics. An Icelandic shipping company’s decision to open operations in Portland served as the catalyst for the state’s interest in the Arctic:
Maine’s interest in the Arctic began two years ago when Iceland’s oldest shipping company, Eimskip, moved operations to Portland from Norfolk, Virginia.
A century ago, Portland billed itself as Canada’s ice-free port, but it’s now selling itself as the U.S. gateway to the high latitudes of the North Atlantic, an area that stretches from Newfoundland and Labrador to Greenland, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, Norway and the northwest coast of Russia.
Speaking last October at an Arctic conference in Iceland, Patrick Arnold, president of Soli DG, a Maine company that operates Portland’s container terminal, displayed a map illustrating the cost of shipping goods from Portland to ports in the North Atlantic. The map showed that the cost of shipping a container from Portland to southern Norway is the same as shipping one by truck from Portland to Delaware.
“Maine has moved closer to the Arctic and Scandinavia as a result of Eimskip operating here and connecting Maine to trade routes,” Arnold said.
Coinciding with the state’s push to be involved in Arctic policy, the Portland Press Herald notes that an Arctic Council working group is scheduled to meet in Portland in September 2016, and that Maine could also be selected to host a senior Arctic Council meeting next year.