U.S. may be left in cold to get seabeds

A submarine breaks through three feet of ice during in the Arctic Ocean.

TEXT OF STORY

Today is the deadline for countries to claim the boundaries
of their continental shelves -- the underwater land beyond their coastlines. There may be a lot of oil under there. From the Marketplace Sustainability Desk, Sam Eaton reports the U.S. might be shut out of it.


SAM EATON: The U.N. Law of the Sea governs the rights of nations to exploit resources in distant offshore seabeds. Something they didn't consider worthwhile until now. Melting ice and improved offshore drilling has generated a flood of new territorial claims on seabeds from the Arctic Ocean to the South China Sea. But since the U.S. hasn't signed the treaty, it has no right to claim its share off the Alaskan coast. Mead Treadwell chairs the U.S. Arctic Research Commission.

MEAD TREADWELL: The amount of extended continental shelf that this nation could get under Law of the Sea is perhaps equal to twice the size of California. That's a magnificent new addition to the territory of the U.S. on the scale of buying Alaska or the Louisiana Purchase.

With potential oil and gas reserves valued at close to a trillion dollars, according to the U.S. State Department. And as countries like Russia and Denmark lay claim to the Arctic, Treadwell says the U.S. risks being left behind if Congress doesn't ratify the treaty this year.

I'm Sam Eaton for Marketplace.

About the author

Sam Eaton is an independent radio and television journalist. His reporting on complex environmental issues from climate change to population growth has taken him all over the United States and the world.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...