NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


October 26, 2007

This year a Democratic majority took power on Capitol Hill.  But new leadership has done nothing to address an old problem: Lawmakers racing to pass bills they haven't actually read, says Ed Feulner, president of the Heritage Foundation.

Consider the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST):

  • President Reagan first scuttled LOST back in 1982 because it would have hurt American sovereignty.
  • But President Clinton brought it back in the 1990s, and the treaty has been floating around Capitol Hill since.
  • Now, mistakenly, the Bush administration has endorsed LOST, and the full Senate may soon consider it.

But in 25 years, it seems nobody has bothered to look beyond the title, says Feulner. Experts who have done so know LOST would create a bureaucratic International Seabed Authority with power to regulate trade, exploration and mining in the world's oceans. 

For instance:

  • The authority created by LOST would basically be an aquatic United Nations of the sea (indeed, LOST is a U.N. convention).
  • Except, instead of issuing toothless condemnations of the United States, this authority would have the actual power to thwart American interests.
  • For example, the treaty would allow environmental activists to bring action against the United States for violating the Kyoto Protocol, though the Senate never ratified that accord and made it clear they wouldn't do so if it hurt American economic interests.

Our republican form of government requires lawmakers to carefully consider the consequences of every law they pass and every treaty they approve, says Feulner. Senators should take a few hours to actually read the Law of the Sea treaty before they put it to a vote.  If they do, there's little doubt this bad proposal will be beached.

Source: Ed Feulner, "They just don't get LOST," Washington Times, October 25, 2007.


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