February 25, 2012
Dr. John Proni and Dr. Richard Dodge, Miami Herald
Deep-water drilling for oil already has begun off the coast of Cuba, barely 55 miles away from the United States. There is significant threat to the U.S. ocean and coastal natural and economic resources from spills and releases as a result of these oil drilling and production activities. The U.S. government and scientific community have the capacity to get ahead of this potential disaster.
Needed are appropriate funding and the political will to enable and to coordinate an appropriate response. In the past year we have learned much from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the largest in the nation’s history. However, drilling in Cuban waters will occur in a different oceanographic and ecological milieu. The setting is singular in the world and poses new and severe chronic risks to our beloved and important shores, ecology, and coastal economy.
The locations of the proposed drill sites are very close to, or even beneath, the Gulfstream. This major current system would transport pollutants (introducing spilled oil, associated drilling products, and chemical dispersants) on the ocean surface or via rising plumes of subsurface oil. Releases could be episodic and massive or chronic and lingering....