US chasing Russia in the Arctic

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The front cover of the administration's fiscal 2017 budget request shows a picture of Denali, the peak in Alaska that President Obama renamed during his trip there last fall. While on that same trip, he promised to accelerate construction of an icebreaker and invest in the Arctic.

Lawmakers say they are pleased that the president has put his money where his mouth is with a $150 million request to begin designing an icebreaker in fiscal 2017. But a more significant investment is needed to ensure the U.S. can compete with Russia and others with an interest in the Arctic.

"The icebreaker is the highway of the Arctic," Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, told the Washington Examiner. "Right now the Russians have an interstate and we have an unpaved back road."

The administration's fiscal 2017 budget request released this month would give $150 million to the Coast Guard to cover design of an icebreaker and drum up interest among shipbuilders.