The New York Times expresses its disappointment that the United States has not ratified the Law of the Sea Treaty, which would allow the U.S. to contend with Denmark, Russia, and others for the rights to minerals under the North Pole:
The United States does not find itself in a strong position. Misplaced fears among right-wing senators about losing "sovereignty" has kept the Senate from ratifying the Law of the Sea even though the United Nations approved it 25 years ago. This, in turn, means that the United States, with 1,000 miles of coastline in the Arctic, has no seat at the negotiating table.
President Bush and moderate Republicans like Senator Richard Lugar, the ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, will try to remedy this blunder when Congress reconvenes. This would at least enable Washington to stake its claims to the continental shelf extending northward from Alaska. We may never need a share of that oil, but it seems foolish not to keep it in reserve.
It's nice to know that the Times believes that the U.S. should keep some oil in reserve. It's just that the Times does not believe that oil in reserve should actually be used. In its most recent editorial on the subject I could find, the New York Times editorialized against drilling in ANWR in 2005:
In addition to the familiar economic arguments - that the refuge is America's last great untapped source of domestic oil and is crucial to its competitiveness - Norton has emphasized that drilling technology has advanced to the point where billions of barrels of oil can be extracted without harming the refuge's fragile ecology or abundant wildlife.
Environmentalists beg to disagree. Where Norton sees undisturbed tundra, they see pipelines, roads and drilling platforms that would fragment wildlife habitats. But what troubles us most about President George W. Bush's fixation on drilling is what it says about the shallowness of his energy policy.
Why pass a treaty to enable a dubious claim for a reserve of unknown value, if you are dead-set against tapping the existing, known reserve you already hold? Perhaps conservatives ought to make a deal with the Times: as soon as you editorialize in favor of expanded drilling in ANWR, we'll take another look at the Law of the Sea.