Letter in Support of the Law of the Sea Treaty

Thursday, July 26, 2012 - 8:00pm


The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world’s largest business federation representing the interests of more than three million businesses and organizations of every size, sector, and region, urges you to carefully examine the merits of the renegotiated Convention on the Law of the Sea currently pending before the United States Senate.

Law of the Sea would grant American business the stability, predictability, and clear legal rights that business needs before making multi-billion-dollar investments in deep seabed resource recovery. Ratification would unleash an investment boom in the development of vast untapped oil, natural gas, and strategic mineral resources—including vital rare earth minerals—off America’s shores. Failure to ratify would leave U.S. business on the sidelines.

With ratification, America would gain exclusive resource sovereignty over 4.1 million square miles of subsea territory, an area greater than the contiguous 48 states. Securing international recognition for U.S. sovereign rights over this territory—and defending against encroachment by other nations—is vital to American prosperity.

New technology makes deep seabed resource extraction technically feasible and economically attractive. More intense global competition for vital resources makes ratification increasingly urgent.

The stakes are enormous. America’s extended continental shelf, which in some areas extends hundreds of miles beyond U.S. territorial waters, contains abundant oil and natural gas reserves that can provide reliable, affordable energy to America’s homes and factories for decades to come—but only if the Senate acts to approve Law of the Sea. Likewise, by joining the Convention, U.S. companies would gain exclusive access to abundant rare earth mineral resources that are essential to high-tech manufacturing. China currently controls 90 percent of the world supply of rare earth minerals. Law of the Sea represents America’s best opportunity to take control of its own resource destiny. No U.S. company will make the multi-billion-dollar investments required to recover these resources without the legal certainty the Convention provides.

U.S. companies need the U.S. Senate to help in developing energy and mineral resources in the Arctic and on the Seabed.

When the time comes to decide, we hope you will consider the important arguments in favor of this treaty raised by America’s most senior military and business leaders and support the expansion of U.S. resource sovereignty and give American businesses the legal certainty they need to make investments, drive economic growth, and create more U.S. jobs.


Thomas J. Donohue