Given Cheney's reported correction, will George Will follow?

››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

The AP reported that Vice President Dick Cheney's office has acknowledged that "he was mistaken when he asserted that China, at Cuba's behest, is drilling for oil in waters 60 miles from the Florida coast" -- an assertion Cheney took from columnist George Will. Does Will plan to offer evidence in support of his claim, or will he issue a correction?

In a June 5 Washington Post column headlined "The Gas Prices We Deserve," George Will noted that U.S. companies have not been permitted to drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and asserted, "Drilling is underway 60 miles off Florida. The drilling is being done by China, in cooperation with Cuba, which is drilling closer to South Florida than U.S. companies are." Vice President Dick Cheney then made a similar claim about China drilling off the coast of Florida in a June 11 speech to the United States Chamber of Commerce. But a June 12 Associated Press article reported that "Vice President Dick Cheney's office acknowledged on Thursday that he was mistaken when he asserted that China, at Cuba's behest, is drilling for oil in waters 60 miles from the Florida coast."

The AP further noted that Cheney "cited his source as columnist George Will" and continued:

Cheney's office said in a statement to The Associated Press that the vice president had erred.

"It is our understanding that, although Cuba has leased out exploration blocks 60 miles off the coast of southern Florida, which is closer than American firms are allowed to operate in that area, no Chinese firm is drilling there," according to the statement.

Cuba clearly is interested in developing its deep-water oil resources, estimated at more than 5 billion barrel, including areas within 60 miles of Key West, Fla., energy experts said.

Jorge Pinon, a senior energy fellow at the University of Miami specializing in Latin America, said Cuba has awarded offshore oil leases, or concessionary blocs, in its offshore waters to six oil companies -- none of them Chinese -- and soon may announce an agreement with Brazil's state oil company, Petrobras.

"But no one is currently drilling in any of those concessions," said Pinon in a telephone interview. Pinon, who supports drilling in the eastern Gulf and believes it can be done without hurting the environment, said China is being raised as an unnecessary "boogeyman" by drilling proponents.

"There is no actual drilling yet. ... There is exploration," said Johanna Mendelson-Forman, a senior fellow on energy and Latin America at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

In light of Cheney's correction, does Will intend to offer evidence in support of his claim, or will he issue a correction?

Posted In
Environment & Science, Drilling
Network/Outlet
The Washington Post
Person
George F. Will
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