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

Sam Eaton May 13, 2009
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U.S. may be left in cold to get seabeds

Sam Eaton May 13, 2009
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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.

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