U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy are among a congressional group introducing the Conservation of America’s Shoreline Terrain and Aquatic Life (COASTAL) Act to increase the amount of offshore energy revenues Louisiana, and other Gulf states, receive.
Under current law, Gulf states only receive a 37.5% cut of revenues from energy produced in federal waters compared to states that receive 50% from onshore energy production on federal land. Louisiana constitutionally dedicates those revenues from offshore energy production to pay for conservation, restoration and environmental projects. The newly-filed legislation would bump the share of revenues Gulf states receive to 50%.
The COASTAL Act also seeks to increase the revenue available for the Land and Water Conservation Fund’s financial assistance to states. Currently, the fund receives 12.5% of revenues generated in the Gulf of Mexico, but cumulative dollars available to both states under the 2006 Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act and the Land and Water Conservation Fund are capped at $500 million. The act would eliminate the cap.
Further, the law would protect GOMESA payments from future sequestration cuts and makes oil and gas leases from 2000-2006 eligible for future GOMESA payments to Gulf Coast states. In 2018, Gulf Coast states could have received an additional $247 million for environmental protection were more offshore leases GOMESA eligible, according to the Department of Interior.
“Louisiana’s coastline infrastructure is critical for America’s energy and economic security,” says Cassidy in a press release. “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 legislation was also introduced by Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee; as well as Dan Sullivan, R-Arkansas; Roger Wicker, R-Mississippi; and Doug Jones, D-Alabama.
This story originally appeared in Greater Baton Rouge Business Report.