Louisiana’s two U.S. senators are waging the latest effort in a long-running push to increase the amount of federal offshore oil money Louisiana receives to restore and protect its eroding coast.
Sen. John Kennedy has introduced a bill that seeks to remove the cap of $375 million a year oil-producing Gulf states can receive through the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, referred to as GOMESA. Passed in 2006, the measure sends Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama a share of oil revenue from drilling in federal waters off their coasts.
“Louisianians have tirelessly supported America’s path to energy independence, and we depend on GOMESA funds to conserve and restore our storm-battered coastline,” Kennedy said in a news release. “The existing cap arbitrarily siphons money away from conservation in oil-producing states. This cap isn’t smart, sustainable or fair. The commonsense solution here is eliminating the cap on oil revenues for Gulf states.”
Fellow Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy is pushing to do the same thing by adding a provision to a bill being debated Tuesday evening on the Senate floor. The Great American Outdoors Act would send 50% of oil and other fossil fuel revenue from federal lands in inland states to an account that pays for maintenance at national parks. Some of the money in the account goes to matching grants for recreation and outdoors projects in those states.
“We have a bipartisan group of senators supporting my provision, and we’ve got environmentally focused organizations doing so, too,” Cassidy says in a speech prepared for his presentation on the Senate floor. “We believe the Great American Outdoors Act’s goals are exactly the same as the ones we have: to protect the environment. … I urge the bill sponsors and those supporting the bill to join me in bringing equity to the coastal regions of our country, and I look forward to working with them in the coming days.
Louisiana lawmakers, coastal advocates and officials in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes have pushed for years to increase the amount the states receive through the GOMESA.
Proponents contend upping the amount would put Gulf states on more-equal footing with the money inland states receive from drilling on federal land within their borders. Opponents say the GOMESA money belongs to the federal government, not the states, and that comparing inland revenue sharing to offshore is a flawed argument.
As it stands, the federal government sends the Gulf states 37.5% of the oil revenue from drilling in U.S. waters off their coasts. Louisiana lawmakers have tried unsuccessfully to increase that share to 50%.
This year, the Gulf states received a record $353 million through GOMESA, including Louisiana’s share of $156 million.
Most of the money from the state’s latest share is set aside for two local projects:
‒ $50 million for a permanent floodgate on Bayou Chene in St. Mary Parish. Officials have sought to build the structure for years to prevent spring floods from the Atchafalaya River from inundating all or parts of six…