Monday, January 28, 2008

Florida, Oil and Cuba

Phil Peters from the Cuban Triangle Blog gives us an update on how Florida politicians are reacting to oil exploration off Cuba's coast.

News last March of possible new Cuban oil exports due to "anticipated production growth" by Canadian energy firm Sherritt International saw Florida politicians react, namely Sen. Mel Martinez, who immediately sought to place sanctions on "foreign companies and investors who help Cuba drill for oil and natural gas near the shores of Key West" (meaning Cuba). Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen had already shown her opposition since 2006 to oil exploration off Cuba's (which happens to be near Florida's) coast. "[Cuba is] not a friendly country. It's a terrorist state but even if it was a great ally we should not allow drilling 45 miles off of our coast," said Rep. Ros-Lehtinen. Both have concerns about the "maritime habitat" off Florida's coast being vulnerable to "unnecessary drilling."

As I wrote back then, both Rep. Ros-Lehtinen and Sen. Martinez don't exactly have the environmental record to be taken seriously. But, Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida does (according to the League of Conservation Voters).

A bill introduced in the Senate last month by Sen. Nelson calls for the nullification of the 1977 US-Cuba Maritime Boundary Agreement [PDF]. It also:

"Amends the Cuban Liberty and Democratic Solidarity (LIBERTAD) Act of 1996 to exclude from U.S. entry an alien who: (1) is an officer or principal of an entity, or a shareholder who owns a controlling interest in an entity that makes an investment of $1 million or more (or any combination of investments that equals or exceeds $1 million in any 12-month period) that significantly contributes to Cuba's ability to develop petroleum and natural gas resources off its north coast; or (2) is a spouse, minor child, or agent of such person."

Sen. Nelson is the only sponsor on the bill so far, and has been leading the push since Brazil and Cuba signed an agreement allowing Brazil to explore for oil off Cuba's coast (just like many other nations have done so far).

A bi-partisan bill by Senators Larry Craig and Byron Dorgan (both supporters of increased trade with Cuba) counters the Martinez and Nelson bills and supports "the exploration for and extraction of hydrocarbon resources from any portion of any foreign exclusive economic zone contiguous to the exclusive economic zone of the United States [which includes Cuba]; and (2) export without license authority all equipment necessary for the exploration for or extraction of such hydrocarbon resources."


leftside said...

Gov Nelson only gets a 58% rating from the LCV in this Congresssional term. That is failing where I come from...

And his concern for the Florida Coast is belied quite clearly by his support for a Bill (S. 3711) that ended protections for Florida’s Gulf Coast and opened up 8 million acres off the coasts of Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana for oil and gas drilling.

It is pretty telling (and funny) that he has gotten ZERO co-sponsors. That is pretty hard to do in the US Congress.

Mambi_Watch said...

Good points, especially on Nelson and S. 3711. But, Nelsons record from 2003-2005 is quite good, above 80%. That's far better than Martinez or Ros-Lehtinen. We can cut Martinez some slack, since he's a new official. But, Ros-Lehtinen's record, according to the LCV, is appalling. Since 1999 her score has been about a 20% average.

It's a good strategy to get behind Sen. Nelson's record, but you're right in question his own nonetheless.