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Wednesday, December 11, 2019

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New House Bill aims to increase revenue for coastal restoration

New House Bill aims to increase revenue for coastal restoration

Members of the Louisiana congressional delegation Thursday introduced H.R. 3814, which amends the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA) to increase the share of offshore oil and gas revenues that flow to Gulf states impacted by the industry.

The money is used for coastal restoration and hurricane protection projects, including ones in Terrebonne and Lafourche parishes.

“Louisiana is battling the largest historical, ongoing and prospective loss of coastal wetlands we’ve ever seen, and it’s a national crisis,” said Rep. Garret Graves, R-Baton Rouge, who joined Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, on the bill.

Graves, who represents northern Terrebonne and Lafourche, called diverting the revenues away from efforts to improve the coast that’s responsible for generating the resource “a fundamentally flawed approach to addressing the maintenance backlog in national parks.”

The four GOMESA member states - Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Texas - receive 37.5 percent of the federal oil lease revenue from drilling off of their coasts unlike inland states, which receive about 50 percent of their revenue for onshore drilling.

Instead, 50 percent of the revenue returns to the U.S. Treasury and the other 12.5 percent goes to the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which allows the federal government to safeguard areas such as national parks and forests.

Louisiana received about $82 million in GOMESA money in 2018 and expects to receive more than $300 million between 2020 and 2022. The amount received also rises and falls with oil prices and the number of drilling leases.

Restore the Mississippi River Delta – a coalition of national and local conservation organizations committed to coastal Louisiana restoration including Environmental Defense Fund, the National Wildlife Federation, National Audubon Society, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana and Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation – issued the following statement in response:

“We thank Congressman Richmond for his commitment to the critical restoration needs of coastal Louisiana. Our nation’s public lands, waters, and wildlife urgently need improved stewardship and additional funding support. It is important that coastal producing states are also well-equipped to ensure the sustainability of coastal communities and ecosystems.

“Land loss in Louisiana is a truly existential crisis for the communities and wildlife that rely on this vital coastal ecosystem. With a comprehensive coastal restoration plan in place and projects underway, Louisiana needs the resources to address this crisis for the generations to come.”