Two Louisiana-based Congressmen are attempting to help the state get a bigger piece of the Gulf of Mexico's oil and gas-related pie.
Congressmen Cedric Richmond and Garret Graves introduced legislation in the House of Representatives today that would, if passed, boost the state's share of offshore energy revenues, providing a substantial increase in funding for coastal restoration and flood protection projects.
The bill, H.R. 3814, is bipartisan. It amends the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006 (GOMESA) to bring Gulf offshore energy revenue sharing closer to parity with onshore energy-producing states - an effort that's long been pursued by Louisiana's congressional delegation.
The legislation was originally introduced last Congress by Rep. Graves. It advanced out the House Committee on Natural Resources last September.
“Louisiana is battling the largest historical, ongoing and prospective loss of coastal wetlands we’ve ever seen, and it’s a national crisis," Graves said. "Diverting Louisiana’s energy revenues away from efforts to improve the resiliency of the people, communities and ecosystems responsible for generating the resources in the first place is a fundamentally flawed approach to addressing the maintenance backlog in national parks. Our bill ensures that these increased revenues will be committed to projects that restore the coast, protect our coastal communities from hurricanes and other disaster and, ultimately, reduce our nation’s outrageous disaster response costs.”
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, supports the bill.
In a statement, they said that it would go a long way in securing the future of the state.
“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. We appreciate the focus Congressman Richmond and Congressman Graves have brought to this issue and their leadership in working for the future of Louisiana’s coast," the statement reads.
This fight has been going on for decades.
Local lawmakers say that for almost 100 years, federal law has discriminated against coastal energy producing states.
While states producing energy onshore federal lands get to retain 50 percent of their energy revenues, coastal states receive just a fraction of that, which Congressmen Graves and Richmond said H.R. 3814 would fix.
Energy production in the Gulf accounts for 18 percent of total U.S. crude oil production and 4 percent of total U.S. dry production of natural gas.
In 2016 alone, this production generated $2.7 billion in royalty revenue for the U.S. Treasury. Of that amount, only 0.407% ($11 million) was given back to those states through revenue sharing programs.