Never mind the fact that Cuba is a sovereign nation…
Two Senate Democrats critical of Cuban offshore oil drilling plans are floating legislation that would hold companies liable under a major U.S. pollution law for spills that originate in foreign waters.
Sens. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), both critics of the Cuban government, fear that a spill from drilling operations around 90 miles from the Florida Keys could harm the U.S. coast.
The plan is aimed at discouraging oil companies from working with the Cuban government to begin offshore oil exploration there. It comes amid broader Capitol Hill criticism of Spanish oil giant Repsol’s plan to begin drilling off Cuba’s northern coast.
Nelson said the U.S. “needs to carry a big stick” because a spill could have a devastating impact on Florida’s environment, tourism and fishing industries.
The Interior Department is working with Repsol in an effort to ensure safe drilling, and plans to inspect Repsol’s rig before it enters Cuban waters.
The company, according to Interior, is pledging to meet U.S. safety standards, which have been beefed up since the BP oil spill. But Interior officials lack regulatory authority over drilling in Cuban waters.
Repsol is also a lessee in U.S. waters in the Gulf of Mexico. That gives Interior the leverage to shove them around a little. But what happens in Cuban waters is Cuba’s business; there’s not a whole lot a couple of blowhards in the Senate can do about it.