During a hearing of the House Committee on Natural Resources today, Congressman David Rivera (FL-25) questioned Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar about the steps that the Obama Administration has taken to discourage foreign government-owned oil companies from doing business with the Castro regime, a State Sponsor of Terrorism, as designated by the U.S. State Department.
Spanish-owned oil company, Repsol is preparing to drill off the coast of Cuba. Secretary Salazar met with officials from Repsol in June, and said that his focus was not to discourage the company's actions in Cuban waters, but to ensure that the drilling was done to protect the environment and the people of the United States. Congressman Rivera feels the best way to do that is by discouraging companies from drilling in Cuba, not by enabling them.
Secretary Salazar also said he did not know if the Administration asked that the Bureau of Industry and Security be allowed to inspect the Repsol rig to ensure its compliance with the Export Administration Act. The act calls for items being exported or re-exported to Cuba to have less than 10 percent U.S.-origin content.
"I think it is of great concern, by the lack of effort in this Administration, Administration-wide, whether it be your agency, the State Department or anyone else, that no effort has been made to prevent a State Sponsor of Terrorism from drilling approximately 60-70 miles off Florida's coast, and providing economic aid and comfort to the dying Castro dictatorship," Congressman Rivera said to Secretary Salazar.
"I hope that in the future, the Administration will do everything possible to make sure that companies comply with sanctions that apply to businesses that do cooperate with State Sponsor of Terrorism by, perhaps, in your agency, withdrawing leases on federal lands and waters. That could be a start to certainly send a signal that this type of activity is certainly frowned upon; collaboration with terrorist regimes."
Congressman Rivera introduced the Foreign Oil Spill Liability Act of 2011 earlier this month that would apply the same Oil Pollution Act responsibilities and liabilities, as well as Clean Water Act penalties that a domestic responsible party would face, to a foreign responsible party for an oil spill that pollutes U.S. waters and shores. The liabilities under the Oil Pollution Act and the penalties under the Clean Water Act would triple in the event that the spill originates in the waters of a State Sponsor of Terrorism. Currently the burden is much lower on foreign spillers, forcing American taxpayers to cover the cleanup costs.