Oil Myth Or Real Argument?

One recent refrain in the political fight over high oil and gas prices has been the contention that China is drilling for energy resources off Cuba, not far from the Florida Keys, and therefore so should the United States.

Proponents of drilling have used that to heavily criticize objections among environmental groups and from top elected officials in Florida to the idea of expanded exploration near the coast of the Sunshine State.

Vice President Cheney cited the Cuba story in a speech yesterday to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington as well.

"Even the communists have figured out that a good answer to high prices is more supply," said Cheney, who then bashed Democrats in Congress for blocking efforts to expand domestic energy production.

"Congress has said no to drilling in ANWR, no to drilling off the East Coast, no to drilling off the West Coast, no to drilling off Florida."

But now one U.S. Senator from Florida is saying that the Cuba argument is a bunch of garbage - a complete myth.

"Tell Boortz China is NOT drilling off the coast of Cuba," was the subject line of an email sent to me late Wednesday by the chief press honcho for Sen. Mel Martinez (R-FL.)

"China is not drilling off the coast of Cuba," Martinez said on the floor of the U.S. Senate.  "Reports to the contrary are simply false."

Looks like the Martinez press shop has some work to do on this, since Vice President Cheney, House GOP Leader John Boehner and other top Republicans are all reciting the Cuba drilling angle, chapter and verse.

As for the issue of drilling off of Florida, I'm not going to be surprised to see a major push to open some of those areas to new drilling, no matter the protests from drilling opponents there.

I don't think the pro-drilling forces are likely to win if the issue is voted on in a vacuum, but as part of a broader compromise energy bill, it could result in a major shift, not only off Florida, but in many areas off the East Coast, West Coast and in the Gulf of Mexico.

Stay tuned.