High oceans:

On one side of the issue lies a coalition of odd but powerful political bedfellows: President Bush, the environmental community, the military, the oil, shipping and fishing industries and the top Democratic and Republican members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

On the other side lies a handful of cranky right-wingers. Yet the issue - Senate ratification of the Law of the Sea — remains unsettled, just as it has been for a quarter of a century.

The UN approved the Law of the Sea in 1982. It governs uses of the world’s oceans, establishing ground rules for everything from navigation to deep seabed mining. It is all fairly common-sensical stuff, but for years opponents have charged that the treaty threatens American sovereignty. And for years, Senate leaders have decided that it is not worth the fight.

This has touched off a scramble among nations to determine who owns what on the ocean floor. There are many other reasons besides oil and gas to ratify this document, not least the fact that it would allow the US to play a leadership role on a whole range of global ocean issues, including overfishing and pollution.

But the possibility of losing out on some major underseas discoveries at a time when oil is approaching $100 a barrel should make even the most reluctant senators take notice. — The New York Times