It's time to debunk two oil myths (which is a polite way of saying "stories about oil which are untrue") that are currently being spread, before they have the chance to build up too much more steam.
If you have heard statements claiming that China is drilling for oil off the Cuban coastline, and/or statements claiming that Hurricane Katrina didn't cause any oil spills, you should know that they are patently false.
Just in case you were wondering.
Cuba, in fact, is NOT drilling for oil near Cuba, and they're not even doing offshore exploration. The ONLY thing oil-related that China is doing in Cuba is seismic (on the ground) testing:
mcclatchydc(N)o one can prove that the Chinese are drilling anywhere off Cuba's shoreline. The China-Cuba connection is "akin to urban legend," said Sen. Mel Martinez, a Republican from Florida who opposes drilling off the coast of his state but who backs exploration in ANWR.
"China is not drilling in Cuba's Gulf of Mexico waters, period," said Jorge Pinon, an energy fellow with the Center for Hemispheric Policy at the University of Miami and an expert in oil exploration in the Gulf of Mexico. Martinez cited Pinon's research when he took to the Senate floor Wednesday to set the record straight...
China's Sinopec oil company does have an agreement with the Cuban government, but it's to develop onshore resources west of Havana, Pinon said. The Chinese have done some seismic testing, he said, but no drilling, and nothing offshore.
Western diplomats in Havana tell McClatchy that to the best of their knowledge, there is no Chinese drilling in or around Cuba.
Don't just take their word for it - even Dick Cheney says so:
So there you have it, from the mouth of an oil man himself (or at least his office): China is NOT drilling for oil or even doing oil exploration anyplace near Cuba.Cheney's office... (issued) a statement that says "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."
And moving on to the next myth...
Hurricane Katrina most definitively DID INDEED cause oil spills - somewhere in the neighborhood of 600 of them or so, releasing oil spillage on a massive scale:
thinkprogressIn fact, the clear satellite evidence of major spills was borne out by final reports. In May 2006, the U.S. Minerals Management Service (MMS) published their offshore damage assessment: “113 platforms totally destroyed, and 457 pipelines damaged, 101 of those major lines with 10? or larger diameter.”
Unsurprisingly, this devastation caused significant spillage, according to the official report prepared for the MMS by a Norwegian firm:
In addition, the hurricanes caused disastrous spills onshore throughout southeast Louisiana and the rest of the Gulf Coast as tanks, pipelines, refineries and other industrial facilities were destroyed, for a total of 595 different oil spills. The 9 million gallons reported spilled were comparable with the Exxon Valdez’s 10.8 million gallons, but unlike the Exxon Valdez, were distributed throughout Louisiana, Mississippi, and other Gulf Coast states, many in residential areas.Hurricanes Katrina and Rita Caused 124 Offshore Spills For A Total Of 743,700 Gallons. 554,400 gallons were crude oil and condensate from platforms, rigs and pipelines, and 189,000 gallons were refined products from platforms and rigs. [MMS, 1/22/07]
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita Caused Six Offshore Spills Of 42,000 Gallons Or Greater. The largest of these was 152,250 gallons, well over the 100,000 gallon threshhold considered a “major spill.” [MMS, 5/1/06]
A bit more on this:
guardian.co.ukThe oil pollution in the wake of Hurricane Katrina could be among the worst recorded in North America, officials trying to coordinate the clean-up say. The US coastguard, which is responsible for the marine environment, said yesterday more than 6.5 million gallons of crude oil had been spilt in at least seven major incidents. The previous worst spill in US waters was the 11m gallons in Alaskan waters from the Exxon Valdez in 1989.
"This is a major event," said Lieutenant Colonel Glynn Smith of the coastguard in New Orleans. "Things are going well, but three-quarters of the oil from the spills has not yet been recovered."
So unless the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Minerals Management Service, the oil companies themselves and basically all international and domestic media agencies covering the situation have conspired together to create the illusion of oil spills happening (something which would require an extraordinary degree of delusion to believe), then it must be acknowledged:
Hurrican Katrina not only caused oil spills, it caused HUNDREDS of them in one of the worst natural environmental disasters in U.S. history.