Erika Johnsen
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There are vast energy resources just chilling in the Gulf of Mexico that, if tapped, could translate into big money and a whole heap of new jobs. Ostensibly because of environmental concerns, however, the United States has barred access to these resources, largely prohibiting American companies from drilling in the Gulf. But, if the current administration feels we can't even trust American companies to avoid another oil spill when it comes to deep-sea drilling, can we really trust... sketchy, unfriendly, communist Cuba?

The government is doing what it can to ensure that the first full-scale oil exploration in Cuba's part of the Gulf of Mexico will not endanger Florida's pristine beaches that lie only miles away, the top drilling regulator told lawmakers on Tuesday.

But the assurances did not completely convince senators at a Capitol Hill hearing that the United States would be prepared to respond to a worst-case oil spill scenario in waters controlled by its long-time Communist foe.

The government is evaluating the safety and emergency plans of Repsol YPF, which plans to explore for oil in the Gulf of Mexico after a Chinese-made rig arrives later this year, said Michael Bromwich, head of the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.

The development is a delicate environmental issue for the United States as BP's oil blowout in the Gulf last year remains fresh in the minds of U.S. coastal residents. Drilling is also banned off Florida's coast.

It is also a sensitive political issue because if there was a spill, U.S. technology might be prevented from being quickly deployed due to the long-running trade embargo with Cuba.

In short, the answer is a resounding no - nobody really likes the idea of Cuba getting at the oil deposits in the Gulf, but there isn't a whole lot we can easily do to stop them. Not only are we missing out on creating jobs and boosting our own economy, but we look pretty ineffectual if another country can just swoop in and get the goods to which we're trying to restrict access, especially a country with a lesser track record of accountability and disaster response.

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Erika Johnsen

Erika Johnsen is a Web Editor for Townhall.com and Townhall Magazine. Follow her on Twitter @erikajohnsen.