Startlingly enough, it looks as if the time will soon arrive when the USA will have to play catch-up with Cuba in oil exploration. The diminutive and destitute communist enclave that serves as Fidel Castro?s personal cigar plantation now realizes that it has enough oil reserves under its coastal waters to prop up its no-go economy for decades and, incapable of assembling the capacity to out the oil itself, the island nation has begun to license drilling rights to other countries, including China, the prospect of which alarms us, and Spain, the idea of which invites us to think of tapas.
In wisdom wrought from its neediness, the resourceful islet has also offered to license American oil companies.
Expectedly enough, the very prospect of Cuba scooping oil out of the ocean floor while America has outlawed it for decades has enkindled hot debate in Congress about the present wisdom of our self-imposed interdiction. The debate has rapidly blossomed into a gusher partly because America has even more proven oil reserves in its coastal waters, no doubt principally because it has even more coastal waters.
Persuasively enough in these oil-dear times, there seems to be enough of the black gold there to meet all of our energy needs for about 18 years, or long enough for all the leaders in the Middle East who we aren?t getting along with these days to go the way of leaders everywhere who, we determine, are irredeemably misguided.
Naturally, conservation societies have been galvanized into opposition by the mere prospect of an oil bit chomping into the emerald waters of our abundantly fishy coastlines in search of the liquid treasure below the reefs.
As the debate bubbles on, we can only consider a worst-case, best-case scenario. Worst case: we do nothing while foreign companies who don?t exactly have the most reverential reputations in ecological propriety drill away and, as time allows, send oil spills slithering onto our beaches. Best case: we race to catch up with Cuba and maybe even preempt the ill-advised entanglements that might otherwise drill down into our hemisphere.
Since we?re actually talking about drilling in our own backyard pond, we might also, one hopes, do it in ways that are less likely to lead to the shameful oil blights that fill us all with remorse and send fish and fowl off to tarry death ? derelictions that strange countries in a strange land might less assiduously labor to avoid.