The Cuban government can't be trusted to oversee the safety of oil drilling activity planned 90 miles from the Florida coast, a state official said.
U.S. Coast Guard officials, members of the U.S. House of Representatives and Florida lawmakers met to discuss plans for oil exploration in Cuban waters. Spanish energy company Repsol is working with its partners to start drilling for oil off the Cuban coast.
Coast Guard Rear Adm. William Baumgartner, in written testimony, said the United States and Caribbean nations, including Cuba, are party to international conventions on oil spills.
"If a spill occurs within Cuban waters that threatens to impact U.S. waters, shorelines or natural resources, the Coast Guard would mount an immediate response, in partnership with other federal, state and local agencies," he said.
U.S. authorities examined safety systems, the blowout preventer and other equipment on the Scarabeo 9 drilling unit off the coast of Trinidad and Tobago that Repsol plans to use in Cuban waters this year.
U.S. inspectors found the drilling unit was in compliance with international and U.S. standards for work in the offshore environment.
Florida Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll, however, said that as a state sponsor of terrorism known for repressing its people, the Cuban government shouldn't be trusted with offshore oil work.
"Cuba cannot be trusted to provide even the bare essentials to its own citizens and it certainly can't be trusted to oversee safe and environmentally sound oil drilling only 90 miles off of our pristine Florida coast," she said.