U.S. lawmakers see offshore drilling near Cuba and feel left out

The U.S. has a years-old ban against offshore drilling in the Florida Straits, but it looks like the area might get drilled anyway — by Cuba. The island country has rights to resources in half of the straits under a 1977 agreement, which President Bush renewed for two years in December. Instead of drilling on its own, Cuba is negotiating with other countries to extract resources — most notably, China and India. U.S. drill-mongers are none too happy. “Red China should not be left to drill for oil within spitting distance of our shores without competition from U.S. industries,” said Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho). Commie-baiting! How retro. Craig and a handful of other lawmakers are pushing to end the coastal-drilling ban, saying it will be a step toward energy independence and help lower prices. Drilling opponents say environmental risks are high, long-term conservation would be more effective, and, since oil is traded on the world market, U.S. gas prices would be unaffected.