Cuba’s Search For Oil Threatens Florida’s Coasts

By Adrianna Quintero

Ever since Cuba’s intent to drill within 70 miles of Florida’s coast has become known, concerned Floridians have been reeling with how to protect our treasured Florida Keys. For many Floridians, this is a very charged issue. It’s no secret that having Cuba drill for oil is itself a hugely political issue– exiles and many others outraged at Cuba potentially developing significant oil resources. Add to that the fact that a spill in the area would seriously endanger one of the country’s most sensitive ecosystems, (and an economic engine for Florida tourism) and you have a firestorm.

This would not be the first time that oil could generate a windfall for a dictator. We have been enriching unstable governments for years due to our deadly addiction to oil. But so far, our consumptive dependence on oil has only prompted us to deal with threats to our national energy security from our oil “dealer’s” threats to increase prices, block the Strait of Hormuz, and manipulate markets knowing we’re at their mercy. In this case, the oil producer is also a neighbor and the risk to the iconic Florida Keys has truly brought the threat home.

The Keys are known as the recreational fishing and scuba diving capital of the world. Extensive coral reefs on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico in Florida are home to some of the world’s most diverse ecosystems, mangroves, sea grass, coral reefs and marine life and the related tourism it generates is no small sum. In 2010, Florida welcomed 82.3 million visitors who spent more than $62.7 billion; and the industry provided employment to nearly a million residents. Each year, Florida generates more than $37.3 billion and 452,811 jobs to Florida’s economy on fisheries, wildlife, and activities carried out in its waters.

We all suffered through the tragic disaster of BP’s Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. There was no global precedent to guide the emergency response at such depth and no one could have imagined the economic and environmental consequences that recklessly drilling 5,500 feet deep would cause. Now, this drilling platform, the Scarabeo 9 is poised to drill deeper yet, and the plan in the event of a spill or explosion, is completely out of our hands. This is the price of our oil dependence and precisely why we need to stop drilling pristine places.

We need great political will to pave the way towards a clean energy future and sometimes fear can be a great motivator. In this case, fear that Cuban oil development would result in Cuba becoming an oil producing country or causing a spill that would pollute our beloved backyard has motivated some who generally don’t recognize the environmental toll of drilling, to speak out against it. It has also resulted in a bipartisan group of legislators including Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio to introduce a bill in the Senate (S. 1836), and David Rivera (R-FL) along with a group of 16 bipartisan co-sponsors to do the same in the House (H.R. 3393) calling for penalties on oil spills– without limitations.

The risks of drilling are real and not limited to drilling done by countries who we don’t play well with. Yes, the dangers of a spill in Cuba are real and out of our hands, but even where U.S. drilling is concerned, the president’s National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling concluded the oil industry lacked the kind of safety culture that could prevent another disaster. And even here, the government lacks the authority and resources necessary to police the industry. We cannot waste another opportunity to take measures to ensure the safety and well being of our communities by holding polluters and policy makers accountable.

Let’s not wait for the next disaster. We must make an effort to wean ourselves from oil now or continue to face big risks and deal with situations like these where dictators are all too ready to become the next “oil dealer” eager to feed our dirty oil addiction.

It’s time to call on our leaders in Congress to protect special places from drilling, protect our oceans, adopt adequate penalties, and most importantly, to support a swift transition to a clean and vibrant energy future.

[Photo By  psmithson]

Subscribe today!

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Must Read

U.S. citizen detained overnight by ICE – they thought he was undocumented

Victor Landa July 6, 2017

By Victor Landa, NewsTaco (1.5 minute read)  This is startling news. Up until last night at a dinner conversation I believed that the idea that an American citizen would be […]

Willie Velásquez documentary is a lesson for Latinos on the importance of voting

NewsTaco May 9, 2017

*Why you should read this: Because today is Willie Velasquez day and a quick search of his name turned up no news stories. This piece, by Mercedes Olivera, is from […]

DIECIOCHO Podcast: Texas Rep. Rafael Anchia – Trump, Gerrymandering and Money

NewsTaco June 8, 2017

By Victor Landa, NewsTaco (1 minute read, 34 minute listen)  It’s safe to say that the just-ended Texas legislative session was the most acrimonious in memory. We can talk for […]

Ted Cruz gets an earful in McAllen for July 4

Victor Landa July 5, 2017

*I’m posting this because it was mostly Latinos, organizing, protesting, making their voices heard. Everyone needs to know that Latinos in deep South Texas are standing up. VL By Patrick […]

Pence will host White House Cinco de Mayo party

NewsTaco May 4, 2017

*Why you should read this: Because there’ll be no Cinco de Mayo celebration at the White House (I know, big deal – we’ll be spared the taco-bowl). VL By Hadas […]

Vietnam War veteran fears he could be deported

Victor Landa July 7, 2017

*This Vietnam veteran, born in Mexico, was awarded two Purple Hearts and given U.S. citizenship after his service. He’s misplaced his documents and after paying $345 the government wants more […]

Castro will not run for U.S. Senate

NewsTaco May 1, 2017

By Victor Laneda, NewsTaco (i.5 minute read)    Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX) says he will not be running for the U.S. Senate against Ted Cruz. Castro had promised to make […]

Henry Cisneros: Why Can’t Americans See Latinos Are Country’s ‘Saving Grace’?

Victor Landa July 7, 2017

*Good question. I think it’s because we’re not the ones telling our story. We need to fight for our narrative. VL By Suzanne Gamboa, NBC News (1.5 minute read)  SAN […]