U.S., Russia view arctic environment

June 19, 2012 at 8:00 AM

WASHINGTON, June 19 (UPI) -- The United States and Russia announced plans to work together to protect the arctic environment from diesel emissions and other pollutants.

Russia is trying to convince the international community that it has a greater claim to the arctic. A 1982 convention gives bordering nations the right to extend arctic claims if the government can prove its continental shelf extends beyond a 200-mile limit.

Warming temperatures have melted arctic sea ice, opening new shipping lanes and exposing vast areas that may hold undiscovered oil and natural gas reserves.

The U.S. State Department announced both sides agreed to work to protect the arctic environment and develop potential oil and natural gas resources while keeping environmental concerns in mind.

The announcement said Norway would join multilateral efforts to coordinate possible oil pollution responses. Norwegian climatologists estimate that more than 17,000 square miles of arctic sea ice has melted every year during the last 20 years.

Environmental scientists predict arctic species could be threatened by climate change and island countries could become submerged.

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