Louisiana’s U.S. senators are calling for the federal government to share more revenue from offshore energy production with states.
U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, both Republicans, and colleagues from other Gulf Coast states and Alaska on Friday introduced the Conservation of America’s Shoreline Terrain and Aquatic Life Act. It would amend the Gulf of Mexico Security Act to send more money to Gulf states and less money to the federal treasury while including more offshore leases in revenue sharing.
The measure also calls for a new revenue sharing program for future offshore production near Alaska. It reduces the proportion of revenue dedicated to the federal government’s Land and Water Conservation Fund, though it removes a $500 million cap on revenue to Gulf states and the fund, which sponsors said would lead to more money for the conservation fund.
Under GOMESA, which became law in 2006, Gulf states get 37.5 percent of the tax revenue from offshore production in federal waters. Officials in those states have long fought for a share of the money to compensate for wear-and-tear on their infrastructure and environment caused by the industry.
But states that host onshore production on federal land receive half of the revenue. The COASTAL Act proposed Friday would increase the revenue shared with GOMESA states to 50 percent.
“This bill makes it clear that Louisiana needs an equitable portion of the revenue made off our coast from offshore drilling,” Kennedy said.
Louisiana constitutionally dedicates offshore energy production revenue to coastal restoration and protection.
“Louisiana’s coastline infrastructure is critical for America’s energy and economic security,” Cassidy said. “This legislation creates equal treatment for Louisiana’s offshore revenue sharing and secures the funds needed to strengthen our state’s coastal restoration efforts.”
The proposed legislation also protects GOMESA payments from future sequestration cuts and makes oil and gas leases from 2000-06 eligible for future GOMESA payments to Gulf Coast states. According to the U.S. Department of the Interior, in 2018 Gulf Coast states could have received an additional $247 million for environmental protection were more offshore leases GOMESA eligible, Cassidy’s office said.
In 2018, the U.S. Department of the Interior distributed more than $8.9 billion from natural resource extraction. Onshore state and local governments received more than $1.5 billion, or 17.7 percent. Gulf states shared approximately $188 million or 2.1 percent, according to Cassidy’s office.
Congressman Garret Graves, a Baton Rouge Republican, sponsored a similar proposal last year that advanced out of the Natural Resources Committee, but was not brought to a vote in the full U.S. House of Representatives.
Posted on Fri, August 9, 2019
by By David Jacobs | The Center Square