U.S. ratification of UNCLOS will be used as a "backdoor" by environmental groups to force regulations on the U.S.
UNCLOS has a number of provisions requiring state parties to do all they can to protect the environment that could be used by environmental groups to force regulations and treaties on to the U.S.
Nations have already attempted to use the Law of the Sea Treaty's environmental provisions to affect the environmental policies of others. In 1999, Australia and New Zealand appealed to the International Tribunal of the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) to shut down Japan's experimental southern blue fin tuna fishing program, citing Articles 64 and 116-119. Although the Tribunal ultimately decided that it lacked jurisdiction in the case, Australia and New Zealand did gain a temporary injunction on the program.36 More recently, Ireland sought ITLOS's help in forcing the United Kingdom to abandon its planned opening of the Sellafield MOX plant, a nuclear fuel reprocessing plant in northern eastern England, arguing that it would contribute to pollution of the North Sea. Although ITLOS did not rule in Ireland's favor, it ordered both Ireland and the United Kingdom to enter into consultations.37
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The Treaty would also significantly reduce the United States’ discretion in applying laws. America’s constitutional system gives its courts significant powers of judicial review. In the area of international rules on environmental pollution, however, accession to LOST would delegate those powers to the Tribunal or a similar court. That is the missed meaning of Article 213, on enforcement with respect to pollution from land-based sources:
“States shall enforce their laws and regulations adopted in accordance with article 207 and shall adopt laws and regulations and take other measures necessary to implement applicable international rules and standards established through competent international organizations or diplomatic conference to prevent, reduce and control pollution of the marine environment from land-based sources.”
As Christopher C. Horner, attorney and senior fellow with the Competitive Enterprise Institute, has noted, “That is a power grab not even the Kyoto Treaty dared attempt. The United States rejects Kyoto; why would we join Kyoto with a court?”46