Gas Prices: More on the Cuba Spat

By May 1, 2006Energy

You’ll recall that Fidel Castro can drill 45 miles off the US coast, when we cannot. You’ll recall further that he’s also going to work with China to let them tap the same reserves, while we look on helplessly with oil hitting $3/gallon. Finally, remember that Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) provided the rebuttal to the President’s Weekly Radio Address a week or so ago, talked on and on about energy, even though he’s steadfastly opposed to opening up the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) to exploration.

OK, so oil prices are skyrocketing and we have 80 billion barrels of oil in the OCS, with 85% of it under a federal moratorium. If you’re Senator Nelson, what do you do when you see Fidel drilling and there’s a moratorium that you have the power to lift? You finally get cracking to lift the moratorium, right?


Sen. Nelson instead is moving to try to stop Castro from drilling in his own waters. According to this article in the Miami Herald by Lesley Clark, Sen. Nelson plans to introduce legislation that would prevent Cuba from drilling. It is “unclear”, says the Herald, “how the United States might enforce a ban on Cuban drilling for oil or natural gas” in its own waters. Good point. You don’t have to be a fan of Fidel Castro’s to realize that he probably can tap his own reserves, just as every other country in the world — except the US — has done.

For his part, Rep. John Peterson (R-PA) — who’s been like a terrier with a bone on the issue of allowing us to tap our own natural resources in an effort to drive down prices — said in a statement:

“It’s one thing for the distinguished senior senator from Florida to focus his efforts on controlling, and in my view, undermining the national energy policy of the United States. As a U.S. Senator, that is, I suppose, his right. It’s something altogether different for him to attempt to control the national energy policy of Cuba. It’s simply a waste of effort.”

He goes on to add that since Canada also drills as close to US shores as Cuba in some areas (Maine, Washington state and Lake Erie, to name a few), perhaps Sen. Nelson should “seek to obstruct the Canadian drilling program as well.” As a final thought, he adds, “While we’re at it….we should require the formal abdication of Fidel Castro and the full and swift adoption of democracy [for Cuba]….” Perfect.

We’d associate ourselves with Rep. Peterson’s remarks on all points. This sure seems like the height of political grandstanding. Sen. Nelson is one of the 100 US Senators with a hand on the spigot. With one vote, they can turn it on and unleash an enormous reserve of oil. Or he could try to stop Cuba from tapping its own oil.

Click here to drop Sen. Nelson a note and tell him to re-direct his efforts toward increasing supply for us, rather than spending his time on a fool’s errand of trying to decrease supplies for Cuba.