Rapidly melting sea ice due to global warming is opening the Arctic Ocean - for the first time ever - to new shipping routes, industrial fishing and energy exploration, putting the region's already vulnerable resources at an even greater risk of exploitation. To effectively protect the Arctic, we must have the legal tools in place to handle competing interests in this area of the planet.
The good news is that new international decisions governing the Arctic's resources are being discussed right now under the United Nations Law of the Sea Treaty. The bad news is that the United States is not at the negotiating table because, despite having signed the treaty more than 20 years ago, we never ratified it - an action that requires a two-thirds vote in the U.S. Senate.
President Obama has stated that Law of the Sea is one of his priority treaties. But we need his help to ratify the treaty in the Senate this fall to help protect the Arctic's fragile and rapidly changing environment.