The justification for U.S. ratification of the Law of the Sea treaty is simple: trillions of dollars of undersea mineral wealth just waiting to be exploited.
The United States stands to gain nearly 300,000 square miles of additional ocean holdings, including an estimated 400 billion barrels of untapped undersea oil and gas, experts say.
That's because the treaty allows countries to extend their claims beyond the current 200-mile limit, if they can demonstrate the continuity of their continental shelf.
The result could make the 1849 Gold Rush and the Texas oil boom seem trivial by comparison. Not surprisingly, U.S. oil and gas companies support ratification.
To gain control over those vast new expanses of ocean, however, the United States must submit extensive map information about the ocean floor and other data to international authorities for review.
U.S. scientists are already busy in the Arctic gathering the requisite data aboard the Coast Guard icebreaker Healy, which is mapping the ocean floor to support U.S. claims if the treaty is ratified.
Newsmax reached chief expedition scientist Larry Mayer aboard the Healy. Although Mayer isn't taking sides on the politics of the treaty, he speaks enthusiastically about the potential windfall.
"I will say that the seafloor beneath the oceans has tremendous potential with respect to resources," he tells Newsmax.
© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.