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Wednesday, August 21, 2019

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State, parishes to get $94M in offshore oil money for coast

State, parishes to get $94M in offshore oil money for coast

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government is set to pay Louisiana $94.7 million of its royalties from Gulf of Mexico offshore oil revenue earned in fiscal year 2018.

News outlets report the U.S. Department of the Interior on Thursday announced the latest Gulf of Mexico Energy and Security Act (GOMESA) award will go toward coastal restorations projects and flood protections.

Lafourche and Terrebonne parishes will receive nearly $2.5 million combined.

The 2006 act is meant to distribute federal revenue collected from energy-related offshore drilling to several states, including Alabama, Mississippi and Texas. The funding handed out this week amounts to nearly $215 million.

GOMESA is a significant source of money for Louisiana’s $50 billion, 50-year coastal master plan. The collection of river diversions, wetlands rebuilding, levee work and other projects aim to deal with coastal erosion, rising seas, sinking land and hurricanes.

Louisiana's award is about $12 million more than it received under the program last year. The money will be split by the state's 19 coastal parishes and the state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, which will get about $76 million.

Among area parishes, Terrebonne will receive $1.45 million, Lafourche $980,000, Assumption $624,000, St. James $528,000 and St. Mary $833,000.

“This funding is critical to our efforts to restore and protect our coast,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said in a news release. “It will allow CPRA to construct hurricane-protection and coastal-restoration projects that will better protect our communities, help restore our coast and make our state more resilient.”

“While these funds go directly to the parishes, we look forward to working with them on their priorities and ensuring the lines of communication with CPRA are open to help move their projects forward,” said Bren Haase, the coastal agency’s executive director.

Gulf states will receive $215 million combined. Louisiana received the most; followed by Texas, $58 million; Mississippi, $32 million; and Alabama, $30 million. Congress has banned drilling off Florida and, as a result, the state does not receive money through GOMESA.

Louisiana’s congressional delegation hailed the latest distribution.

“Revenues from oil and gas activity in the Gulf of Mexico are vital to restoring our coast and protecting coastal communities, which is why I’ve fought to protect this revenue sharing from attempts to raid it,” said Rep. Steve Scalise, R-Metairie, whose district includes southern Terrebonne and Lafourche. “Through this revenue sharing, Louisiana will receive nearly $100 million to invest directly into vital coastal-restoration and hurricane-protection projects that provide greater security against strong Gulf storms and floods.”