U.S. Uses Global Warming to Lay Claim to 200,000 Square Miles of Arctic Waters

Monday, August 22, 2011
Applied Physics Lab Ice Station near Prudhoe Bay (U.S. Navy photo: Tiffini M. Jones)
The upside of global warming and the melting of the polar icecap is that the United States may be able to significantly expand its territorial interests at sea.
But that’s assuming other countries near the Arctic Ocean go along with America’s attempted grab.
According to the U.S. Navy, Washington is seriously thinking about using the Alaska coastline to claim about 200,000 square miles of territorial and exclusive economic zone waters. With large untapped reserves of oil and gas lying beneath the (not-for-long) frozen waters, plus the potential for new commercial shipping lanes, U.S. officials want to stake as big a claim as possible in the changing region, which, according to the Navy, could be ice-free during the summer months within 25 years.
But so do the other seven nations whose territory borders on the Arctic; the members of the Arctic Council are the U.S., Russia, Canada, Finland, Norway, Iceland, Sweden and Denmark, which represents Greenland.
Longtime ally Canada poses one barrier to expanded American interests involving the Northwest Passage. Canadian leaders say it’s in their territorial waters, while the U.S. contends it is an international waterway.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Arctic Environmental Assessment and Outlook Report (Office of the Oceanographer of the Navy) (pdf)
Amid Melting Ice, Navy Assesses Strategic Demands in Arctic (by Geoff Ziezulewicz, Stars and Stripes)
As Arctic Ice Melts, U.S. Competes for Oil, Gold and other Resources (by David Wallechinsky and Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)


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