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Don't commit to the 'Red Tape of the Seas' agreement

Posted: June 3, 2012 - 12:08am

Our two Senators recently expressed support for ratification of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, hereafter Law of the Sea Treaty, LOST. The public discussion about ratification has largely been about the treaty’s navigation and boundary provisions with political, military, bureaucratic and other officials cited in support based on these provisions.

LOST, however, includes at least two seldom-mentioned elephants in the room. When these were pointed out to our Senators, one responded, to paraphrase, “What elephants?” The other suggested that they weren’t elephants at all but a cocker spaniel and a parakeet.

The putative cocker spaniel, Ralph, is provision for a UN-sponsored “Seabed Authority” whose purpose is to control development of the resources on or in the seabed under international waters, more than half the earth’s crust, to the benefit of all mankind (or at least for those finding favor with the Authority) and the Authority itself. Its features include a permitting section, transfer of rights to significant portions of any found resources to itself and sharing with the world of any private technology used to develop the resources. In short, it has re-designated areas heretofore considered as belonging to no one as belonging to everyone with the Authority as the beneficent Central Committee. Those of you comfortable with the integrity of UN bodies when large sums of power and money are involved will have no worries. Those of you who consider the U.N. a poster child for bureaucratic waste, opacity and corruption should be very alarmed.

The technology transfer provisions were rejiggered years ago to hopefully mollify U.S. critics by removing language making them mandatory, but you know how that goes: “Gosh, your permits could take years if successful at all. We suspect that they’d go quicker if you voluntarily gave us a look at your proprietary technology and perhaps let us or our designated friends use it at a reasonable cost.”

One more feature of the Seabed Authority is that its bylaws, if you will, can be changed by vote of its members, making this part of LOST an open-ended commitment by the U.S. should it ratify. What could possibly go wrong? That’s no spaniel’s bark; that’s an elephant trumpeting!

The parakeet, Pretty Peter, is an environmental section addressing all the usual suspects but also addressing pollutants carried through the atmosphere from inland sources, pollutants identified by internationally-accepted bodies among which the IPCC will certainly be counted. In short, LOST is a backdoor Kyoto II agreement. Environmental organizations are wetting their plants in anticipation of its ratification by the US Senate. So all of you dismayed by the state of climate science -by its exaggerations, by the flimsy science underpinning its war on carbon dioxide, by its argumentum ad populum, by its ad hominem responses to legitimate questions and criticism, by its politicization — your travails could soon be over… You LOST! Good heavens, another elephant!

The U.S. should not ratify LOST. It already enjoys the benefits of most or all of the treaty’s maritime navigation and boundary provisions. The U.S. already assumes a 200-mile economic interest zone beyond its shores. It already has the means to defend any interests it may have in its continental shelf beyond the 200-mile zone and, indeed, President Truman, by Proclamation, asserted US rights to resources in that area. It doesn’t need a motley assemblage of UN member states arbitrating its boundary disputes where some of the panel’s member states may hope to extract benefits from whichever disputant may be the most “generous.” It doesn’t need a supra-national body to raid its constituents’ pocketbooks through its corporate resource developers for wealth to redistribute or use in support of its bureaucracy. It doesn’t need endless and expensive legal bickering over its fossil fuel use.

The U.S. does not need to follow the herd to be a world leader. As wiki says, LOST replaces the old “freedom of the seas” concept that served us well for centuries. What wiki doesn’t say is that it substitutes a new “red tape of the seas” concept more in keeping with the aspirations of 21st-century globalists.

But then that is self-evident. Tell our Senators that LOST should get lost.

• Wescott is a retired engineer who lives in Auke Bay.

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