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U.S. President eyes Alaska
Author: Rashah McChesney Blog / 29 September, 2015 / Age: 2 yrs

Standing at the bow of the Viewfinder, President Barack Obama gripped the steel railing as the boat cut through the deep blue water of Resurrection Bay amid the mountains, islands and glaciers in the Kenai Fjords National Park.

For two hours, the president’s boat sped through the park, stopping briefly at Fox Island and the spit where dead trees - salted during the 1964 earthquake - stood in stark contrast to wild, green forest surrounding the fjords. He sat chatting with a park ranger as his boat stopped to look for humpback whales and then to slowly roll up on a group of Stellar sea lions basking on a rock. Finally the president’s boat drew close to Bear Glacier where he paused to talk about its rapid retreat. The glacier, at 12 miles long, is the longest in the national park and one of nearly 40 that flow down into the nearby Harding icefield.

It was one of several stops that he used to highlight his administration’s climate change agenda using Alaskan communities, where its effects are already altering daily life, as a backdrop.

The president urged action during his first trip of the visit - an international conference on the Arctic.

"Climate change is no longer some far-off problem, it is happening here, it is happening now," he said. "We’re not acting fast enough. I have come here today, as the leader of the world’s largest economy and its second-largest emitter, to say that the United States recognizes our role in creating the problem, and we embrace our responsibility to help solve it."

The president’s next stops in the state were both small off-the-road system communities including Dillingham and Kotzebue, the former included a traditional Yup’ik dance at the community’s middle school and the latter made him the first sitting president to visit the Arctic Circle.

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