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Group Urges Ratification of Deep-Sea Mining Treaty

A group of former political and military leaders is urging the Senate to ratify the United Nations’ Convention of the Law of the Sea to kickstart U.S. deep-sea mining efforts, The Wall Street Journal (subscription) reports.  

What’s going on: A draft letter seen by the Journal and signed by 331 individuals, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff, calls “on Senate leaders to ratify the treaty in a bid for the country to stake its claim over areas of international waters where minerals such as cobalt and nickel, considered critical for the energy transition and in defense applications, can be sourced.”

  • The treaty, which the U.S. recognized after it went into effect in 1994 but never ratified, is an international agreement governing the use of ocean resources.

Why it’s important: The treaty’s governing body, the International Seabed Authority, meets next week in Jamaica to determine “the final parts of the mining code—the set of laws and regulations that will eventually govern seabed mining. … As a nonvoting member, the U.S. has no say on laws pertaining to the seabed and also can’t be awarded exploration contracts to mine the seafloor in international waters. China currently has five.”

A groundswell: Deep-sea mining is gaining political support.

  • Earlier this month, Reps. Carol Miller (R-WV) and John Joyce (R-PA) introduced a measure in support of it.
  • “It’s vital to our security and economic interests that the [China]-controlled monopoly on these materials is broken,” Rep. Joyce said.
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