U.S. environmental standards already meet or exceed those set by UNCLOS
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Fundamental differences on environmental policy have also been raised as objections to UNCLOS. Opponents see UNCLOS as a 'back door' for environmental activists to circumvent the U.S. Congress on international environmental law.70 Alternatively, accession might encourage foreign governments to bring action against the United States for environmental transgressions under the treaty‘s mandatory dispute resolution protocol.71
Use of the outlined dispute resolution process against the United States seems unlikely, though, since the United States already complies with or exceeds the environmental standards set out in UNCLOS.72 Further, provisions meant to protect the sustainability of the world‘s oceans are of global concern73 and benefit U.S. ocean-based industries.74 Even while it complies with the substance of the environmental provisions, the United States may be seen as a block to global environmental action until it actually ratifies UNCLOS.75
Opponents argue that UNCLOS's provisions calling for states to reduce pollution through "best practicable means" could be used as a "backdoor" to force environmental treaties on the U.S. However, legal scholars and State Department officials have concluded that the convention only binds the United States to act in accordance with its own laws or appropriately ratified international agreements and cannot be used as a “back door” to compel enforcement of international agreements the Senate has not ratified.