Sen. James E. Risch (R-Idaho) raised one of the critics’ major arguments: money paid to the International Seabed Authority as royalties for extraction of resources from the deep sea are to be distributed by the authority.
“Why do we as Americans, give up our taxing authority, handing money over to the United Nations to develop some kind of formula that we have no idea what it’s going to?” Risch said.
Clinton noted that it’s not a tax but a royalty arrangement, similar to those that exist on land and sea. The royalty doesn’t start for five years, she added, then rises at 1 percent each year until it caps at 7 percent.
One of the 1994 modifications to the convention gives the United States a permanent seat on the Council of 36 signatories that sets the policies for royalties as well as approves their distribution. Those decisions must be made by consensus, meaning unanimous approval.
“We would have a permanent veto power over how the funds are distributed, and we could prevent them from going anywhere we did not want them to go,” Clinton said.
She later added that consensus is necessary to deal with “any decision that would impose an obligation on the United States” or any country.
Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) repeated several criticisms then added that the signatories “also help get to define the rules of engagement for the U.S. Navy all over the world.”
Dempsey diplomatically responded, “Where in the treaty do you see our rules of engagement or our activities limited, because they’re not limited in any way.”
One main selling point, emphasized by Clinton, is that “the largest single portion of the U.S. extended continental shelf is in the Arctic,” where Russia, Canada, Norway and Denmark, through its ownership of Greenland, are already establishing their claims.
As Palin wrote in her 2007 letter, “If the U.S. does not ratify the convention, the opportunity to pursue our own claims to offshore areas in the Arctic Ocean might well be lost. As a consequence, our rightful claims to hydrocarbons, minerals, and other natural resources could be ignored.”
Perhaps it’s time for conservative Republicans to listen to Palin on something she knows about firsthand.