“It is an outrage.”
The source of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s anger? The fact that the United States has yet to approve a treaty known as the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, which often goes by the acronym LOST.
Panetta was speaking after the election. His ire about LOST’s status suggests that the Obama administration may well make this a second-term priority.
It’s come close to being ratified by the U.S. Senate before — it dates back to 1982, in fact. But LOST has never been able to gain enough supporters in the Senate.
That could change, however — and quickly. Its advocates, hoping that their moment has arrived, are turning up the heat.
I don’t just mean administration officials. LOST has its defenders in the media, too. Bob Keeler of Newsday, for example, recently wrote that refusing to sign the pact is “unfathomable.” By rejecting treaties such as LOST, he says, we’re refusing “to be part of the family of nations,” and we’re “well on the way to becoming an outlaw nation.”
According to its supporters, we need LOST for a variety of reasons. The main one concerns the oil and gas resources located in the outer limits of our Extended Continental Shelf. The treaty’s proponents say we can obtain legal title to it only by signing on to the treaty.
According to Panetta, “there are countries that are making claims there, and we can’t even engage with those countries because we haven’t approved the Law of the Sea Treaty,”
Adds Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.): “If the United States does not ratify this treaty, our ability to claim the vast extended Continental Shelf off Alaska will be seriously impeded.” Without LOST, we’re told, we won’t be able to develop the hydrocarbon resources beneath the Shelf in areas such as the Gulf of Mexico and the Arctic Ocean.
Sounds pretty dire — and, at a time of fluctuating prices for gasoline and other forms of energy, alarming. Fortunately, it isn’t true.
Under international law and long-standing U.S. policy, we already have access to these areas. Presidents dating back to Harry Truman have issued proclamations — and Congress has passed laws — establishing America’s maritime laws and boundaries. And no one has challenged them.
Perhaps LOST’s proponents would like this to change. They tend to be fans of superfluous international agreements, and frequently back policies that would tie the hands of the U.S. and prevent us from acting in our own interests. But the fact remains that their claim about LOST being necessary to obtain legal title to the oil and gas under the Extended Continental Shelf is pure fiction.
“The Obama administration has promoted the Law of the Sea treaty and seems to have bought into the false nobility of global governance,” former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said. “Why should the American people support leaders who put American interests on an equal footing with foreign interests? Aren’t they elected to represent ‘we the people,’ not we are the world?”
So if we reject LOST, are we truly outside the “family of nations?” It’s true that more than 160 nations have chosen to ratify LOST. But the United States is hardly alone. “More than 30 other nations — including Colombia, Israel, Peru and Turkey — have chosen not to ratify the convention,” writes The Heritage Foundation’s Steve Groves, an expert on LOST. “The nations that have joined LOST cannot prevent the United States or any other nation from mining the seabed, any more than they can prevent the U.S. from exercising the freedom of navigation and overflight, the freedom of fishing, or any other high seas freedom.”
President Reagan was right to reject LOST 30 years ago. The U.S. Senate should do the same thing today.
(Feulner is president of The Heritage Foundation.)
“It is an outrage.”
- Local News
MHES continues well-received project
Late in the school year, Mount Hope Elementary School continued a program that has made inroads into the overall health and well-being of the students and the community.
Fayette County flag, seal, Wall of Honor slated to be unveiled
Fayette County will celebrate West Virginia’s sesquicentennial year by unveiling its new county seal and county flag in a ceremony Saturday.
DEP studies discharge at Lochgelly well site
A new round of water tests near the Underground Injection Control (UIC) well at Lochgelly provide evidence that oil and gas drilling waste could be discharging into the headwaters of Wolf Creek.
Mount Hope council votes to have second public hearing on plan
Concerned that not enough townspeople had access to the city’s draft comprehensive plan before it went to council for vote, the Mount Hope Planning Commission has chosen to hold another public hearing about the document.
National Park Service moving forward with trail development
The National Park Service (NPS) is moving forward with development of several new trails in the New River Gorge National River after a recent environmental assessment failed to turn up any significant negative impact.
NPS announces schedule of events
Have you had a glimpse of the New River Gorge from Grandview yet this season? Now is a good time to see one of the most spectacular vistas in the region at New River Gorge National River as a ranger-guided programs bring the area's rich heritage into focus.
Number of improvements under way throughout Oak Hill
On Monday, the Oak Hill city council recognized BB&T employees who purchased and planted evergreen shrubs at the city’s amphitheater and rhododendrons along the White Oak Rail Trail.
Counterfeit bills discovered at bank in Fayette County
Fayette County Sheriff Steve Kessler is urging area residents and business owners to take a second look at $20 bills they are handed.
Man facing sex charges
A Fayette County man was arrested Monday and charged with sex crimes against a minor.
Police search for suspect in Oak Hill Dollar General robbery on Sunday
A Dollar General store in Fayette County was robbed Sunday night, according to West Virginia State Police Trooper C.L. Mollohan of the Oak Hill detachment.
- More Local News Headlines
- MHES continues well-received project