Fla delegation wants crack down on companies that help Cuba drill for oil
With Cuba poised to drill for oil off its coast as early as this spring, Florida lawmakers are renewing efforts to block it, citing fears about damage to the state's beaches in the event of a major oil spill.
Sarasota Republican Rep. Vern Buchanan has introduced legislation that would allow the U.S. Interior Department to deny U.S. oil and gas leases to companies involved in Cuba's oil drilling operations. Sen. Bill Nelson plans to re-introduce legislation to pull the U.S. visas for executives of such companies. Nelson also is hoping to ``outline our position'' in a yet-to-be-scheduled meeting with officials from Spanish energy giant Repsol, which is working with Cuba.
Buchanan, a staunch opponent to drilling off Florida's coast, said he worries that Cuba doesn't have the expertise to contain a spill. He said he has bipartisan support for his efforts, even among lawmakers who have pushed to relax some restrictions against Cuba.
Rep. David Rivera, R-Miami, has co-sponsored Buchanan's bill and quizzed Graham about Cuba's plans at a recent House Natural Resources Committee, saying he was "deeply concerned about the ongoing development off the coast of Florida."
Rivera asked Graham whether he believed Cuban drilling could be done safely. Graham said he was worried about "the relative lack of experience of the Cubans" and that the "record of some of the companies that are being brought in to do this work is not comforting."