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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Martinez: China not drilling off Cuba



U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez, Republican from Florida, took to the Senate floor today to try to put the kibosh on a growing myth on Capitol Hill, being spread by members of his own party: That China is drilling for oil and gas just 60 miles off Key West, closer to Florida than American companies can drill.

"China is not drilling off the coast of Cuba," Martinez said. "Reports to the contrary are simply false. They're rumors, akin to urban legend."

The China argument is a favorite of pro-drilling forces on Capitol Hill who don't like federal restrictions on drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. With gas prices over $4 per gallon, Republicans again are trying to open up more of nation's coasts to drilling.

The House Republican leader, John Boehner of Ohio, sent out a statement Wednesday saying, "While China explores oil and gas 60 miles from American shores, Dem majority keeps energy resources under lock-and-key. When it comes to energy exploration, do Democratic leaders really trust the Chinese more than Americans?"

But Martinez, a Cuban American and the Senate's resident Cuba expert, cited a Congressional Research Service study and the University of Miami, which found the only Cuban territory that China has leased for energy exploration is on land. A Spanish company has options on one area off the Cuban coast, but "they tell me they have no current plans" for production, he said.

[Last modified: Wednesday, September 15, 2010 10:22am]


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