In recent days, several conservatives, in an attempt to push for expanded oil drilling, have parroted the talking point that China is drilling near Cuba, just off the coast of Florida. In reality, “China is not drilling in Cuba’s Gulf of Mexico waters, period,” as Jorge Piñon, an energy expert at the University of Miami, explained.
Nevertheless, as Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) calls for lifting a ban on offshore oil drilling, the McCain campaign continues to parrot the false line. On CNBC last night, McCain adviser Nancy Pfotenhauer stated:
When you think about the fact that we’ve got China and Cuba drilling closer to the United States — the coastal United States — when American companies aren’t allowed to drill. It’s just insane.
This afternoon on MSNBC, she made similar comments:
And remember, you’ve got China and Russia drilling closer to American coastlines than American companies are allowed to drill.
In recent days, however, several prominent conservatives, including columnist George Will (who originally made the specious claim), have publicly rejected the talking point:
House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH): “We’re not using the China talking point anymore.”
Vice President Cheney: “It is our understanding that, although Cuba has leased out exploration blocks 60 miles off the coast of southern Florida…no Chinese firm is drilling there.”
Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL): The China-Cuba connection is “akin to urban legend.”
But Pfotenhauer continues to push a false claim that even her conservative allies no longer use. Not surprisingly, according to Senate lobbying disclosures, Pfotenhauer previously was a lobbyist for Koch Industries, a major energy company involved in oil exploration.
PFOTENHAUER: Well first of all Senator McCain is in favor of increased production across the board. Lifting the moratorium on offshore drilling is a very important signal to OPEC and to other countries and its also something that makes sense at this time. Remember he’s put in a caveat that says that the states will have to approve it. When you think about the fact that we’ve got China and Cuba drilling closer to the United States – the coastal United States – than, when American companies aren’t allowed to drill it’s just insane. It’s very safe right now. It’s ecologically, um, safe. It’s been tested by national disaster as Senator McCain mentioned. It’s crazy not to do it.
PFOTENHAUER: People are concerned right now by gasoline prices, grocery prices, rising health care costs, and they want a little, a little less talk and a lot more action. And, John McCain is about a lot more actions. He’s got plans for all three of those. And remember we’ve got China and Russia drilling closer to American coastline than American companies are allowed to drill. We desperately need to do something to increase our domestic production and that means increase drilling.