Icy Arctic rising as economic, security hot spot

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Arctic sea ice extent for September 16, 2012 (in white) and 1979 to 2000 average extent (yellow line), NASA graphic. (AP Photo)

Arctic sea ice extent for September 16, 2012 (in white) and 1979 to 2000 average extent (yellow line), NASA graphic. (AP Photo)

WASHINGTON (AP) – The icy Arctic is emerging as a global economic hot spot. It’s one that is becoming a security concern for the U.S. as world powers jockey to tap its vast energy resources and stake out unclaimed territories.

President Barack Obama on Friday announced a new U.S. strategy for the Arctic, calling the region “an amazing place.” He urged allies to protect its fragile environment and keep it free of conflict.

Diplomats from eight Arctic nations will meet next week over how to protect the thawing region as its seas open to commercial shipping traffic.

U.S. officials estimate the Arctic holds 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil reserves, and 30 percent of undiscovered gas deposits.

That’s spurred what experts describe as a kind of gold rush scramble to the Arctic.

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