Cheney's office: China not drilling in Cuba, not so far
Posted on Sat, Jun. 14, 2008
BY LESLEY CLARK
WASHINGTON — Vice President Dick Cheney's office has acknowledged that
he erred when he told an audience this week that China is drilling for
oil off the coast of Cuba.
Citing columnist George Will, Cheney told the U.S. Chamber of Commerce
on Wednesday that “oil is being drilled right now 60 miles off the
coast of Florida. We're not doing it. The Chinese are in cooperation
with the Cuban government.''
''Even the communists have figured out that a good answer to high prices
is more supply,'' Cheney added. 'Yet Congress has said . . . `no' to
drilling off Florida.''
The claim — touted by House Republicans and carried on conservative
talk radio — was repudiated by Republican Sen. Mel Martinez, an
independent congressional report, industry experts and other observers,
who said there is zero evidence for it.
With Democrats accusing the GOP of using scare tactics, Cheney's office
backtracked, issuing a statement that said: “It is our understanding
that, although Cuba has leased out exploration blocks 60 miles off the
coast of southern Florida, which is closer than American firms are
allowed to operate in that area, no Chinese firm is drilling there.''
Cheney's remarks came just minutes after Martinez had taken to the
Senate floor to debunk the rumor, calling it akin to an urban legend.
''Any talk of using some fabricated Cuba-China connection as an argument
to change U.S. policy has no merit,'' Martinez said.
House Minority Leader John Boehner's office earlier defended the GOP
drilling claims, citing a 2006 New York Times article that said Cuba had
“negotiated lease agreements with China and other energy-hungry
countries to extract resources.''