Northwest Passage Dispute

Northwest passage dispute

The Northwest Passage Dispute between the US and Canada has a history of over 46 years, and is as frozen as the Arctic’s ice. In 1969, after the US owned super oil tanker (SS Manhattan) started its voyage from Alaska’s north coast to Texas, in an attempt to test the likelihood of shipping the oil through the passage, a dispute seed was sown between the two countries. In 1970, soon after the US voyage, the then Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau’s government passed a bill known as, “The 1970 Arctic Water Pollution Prevention Act,” which states that only the Canadian government has the full jurisdiction and coastal control over the Northwest Passage, and no other country’s vessel can enter the passage without its consent. However, the US government opposed Canada’s claim of Northwest Passage being its “internal waters” stating that the passage is open to all and it is an “international strait” and the Northwest Passage Dispute started. After Pierre Trudeau, his son’s Justin Trudeau government started bilateral talks with Washington D.C., courtesy, President Barack Obama’s tactical motivation. The talks, which largely emphasized on environmental protection, started in March 2016 and ended in a joint statement which was released December 2016. According to the statement, all offshore oil and gas activities in US and Canadian Arctic waters were banned. However, the new President-elect seems to have a whole new ‘ Trump’s US arctic policy ‘ in place. He wants US to attain energy independence by developing its own energy resources. He is also very keen on building pipelines, such as the Keystone XL and may also grant permissions to private agencies in the energy sector. As of now, it seems like Trump is going to dig Alaska deep with his ‘America First’ and ‘self-sustainability’ policies.


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