Protect Florida from Cuban drilling
Published: June 13, 2014
Even the most zealous defender of the Cuban embargo should see it makes
no sense to block the shipment of oil-drilling safety equipment to the
After all, as the Tribune’s Paul Guzzo reports, Cuba plans to begin
exploratory drilling next year. Should an accident occur, it could
quickly taint Florida’s shores, particularly the Keys.
That is why former Florida Sen. and Gov. Bob Graham, an embargo
supporter, wants Congress or the administration to adopt an exception to
the trade ban so the United States can sell drilling safety equipment —
it manufactures the best in the world — to Cuba.
It is unfortunate that Cuba would even drill in waters where a spill
could quickly jeopardize the fragile Florida Keys. Indeed, not drilling
in the region would be an impressive show of goodwill to the United
States. But that is unlikely.
Cuba, which depends on Venezuela for its oil, is desperate for its own
Other Cuban oil exploration efforts have come up dry. The island nation
plans to try deep-water sites that are more risky to tap.
Of course, even modern safety equipment provides no guarantee against an
environmental disaster, as the Deepwater Horizon disaster showed, but it
greatly diminishes the odds of a devastating spill.
Opponents say that providing the equipment would aid the repressive
Cuban government and make drilling a certainty.
They believe that because there is only one Italian rig now eligible to
drill in Cuba under the embargo, the exception actually would enable
Cuba to develop more rigs.
But that stance ignores the likelihood this desperate socialist nation
would pursue the project on the cheap.
Jose Pinon, the former president of Amoco Oil Latin America now at the
University of Texas at Austin’s Center for International Energy and
Environmental Policy, told Guzzo that Cuba could get the job done by
building a makeshift rig with outdated parts.
The United States then would pay the consequences for Cuba’s recklessness.
As Graham told Guzzo: “The initial exploratory drill is the most
susceptible to accidents. BP was an exploratory drill. Is Cuba in a
position to do that inherently dangerous process with the equipment
available to them under the status quo?
“We think the answer is no.”
We believe the Cuban embargo has outlived its usefulness. In 50 years it
has failed to undermine the Cuban government and now serves mostly to
give the Castro brothers a scapegoat to blame for their disastrous policies.
More trade with the United States and exposure to free market vitality
would likely be more effective in advancing the cause of freedom in Cuba.
But it is understandable that many Cuban-Americans remain wary of any
move that might benefit Cuba’s socialist leaders, who have a history of
exporting revolution and now are supporting tyranny in Venezuela.
The sad reality is that Cuba appears intent on drilling, with or without
proper precautions. Selling it safety equipment is not about aiding
Cuba. It is about defending Florida’s fragile coast.
Source: Protect Florida from Cuban drilling | TBO.com, The Tampa Tribune
and The Tampa Times –