The Senate is gearing up to ratify a Nixon-era U.N. treaty meant to create universal laws to govern the seas -- a treaty critics say will create a massive U.N. bureaucracy that could even claim powers over American waterways.
LOST -- the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, also called the Law of the Sea Treaty -- regulates all things oceanic, from fishing rights, navigation lanes and environmental concerns to what lies beneath: the seabed's oil and mineral wealth that companies hope to explore and exploit in coming years.
But critics say the treaty, which declares the sea and its bounty the "universal heritage of mankind," would redistribute American profits and have a reach extending into rivers and streams all the way up the mighty Mississippi.
The U.N. began working on LOST in 1973, and 157 nations have signed on to the treaty since it was concluded in 1982. Yet it has been stuck in dry dock for nearly 30 years in the U.S. and never even been brought to a full vote before the Senate.
But swelling approval in the Senate and the combined support of the White House, State Department and U.S. Navy mean LOST may be ready to unfurl its sails again.
Sen. John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said during a January confirmation hearing that he intends to push for ratification. "We are now laying the groundwork for and expect to try to take up the Law of the Sea Treaty. So that will be one of the priorities of the committee, and the key here is just timing -- how we proceed."
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, saying the treaty is vital for American businesses and the Navy, told Kerry that his committee "will have a very receptive audience in our State Department and in our administration."
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