You probably heard the news last week- the Obama Administration unveiled its proposed 2016 federal budget. In the budget funds promised from The Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, or GOMESA, were redirected from four Gulf States, including Louisiana, to be spent elsewhere in the nation. Basically, offshore oil and gas revenue sharing was eliminated.
Frankly, this is an outrageous reversal of the agreements worked out in 2006, led by Senator Mary Landrieu, after years of making the case that Louisiana and other Gulf coast states that have offshore oil and gas activity bear the impact for oil and gas development for America. We must keep saying it, nearly 10 years later.
Where oil and gas drilling occurs on federal lands, states receive 50% of revenues, but where oil and gas drilling occurs in federal waters, coastal states get nothing. GOMESA addressed that inequality. Louisiana is already at a disadvantage for receiving oil and gas revenue because state waters end at three nautical miles, whereas Texas and west Florida have an established nine nautical mile limit for their state waters. GOMESA addresses disparities by creating an avenue for offshore revenues to be returned to Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas.
Perhaps President Obama and the rest of the country have not heard enough about the looming crisis of coastal erosion in Louisiana. We need to remind them that Louisiana has lost 1,900 square miles and is projected to lose another 1,750 square miles if no action is taken. We need to keep telling people that Louisiana has a comprehensive Coastal Master Plan to address ongoing coastal erosion. In fact, future Coastal Master Plan program funding is largely dependent on dedicated funds from sources like GOMESA and the RESTORE Act.
We need to speak up for Louisiana about our contribution to the energy resources this nation depends on and make it clear that we need every dollar available to put toward coastal restoration of important wildlife habitat and economic value.
You can send a message directly to President Obama and your representatives in Congress to let them know you’re watching and you expect the GOMESA funding directed to the Gulf States will be restored in the federal budget for 2016. Sportsmen and women who care about protecting our coastal wetlands must speak up now for Sportsman’s Paradise and protect it for our state and the nation.
Background: The Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, or GOMESA, will allow Louisiana and three other Gulf states to get 37.5 percent of the revenue generated from Outer Continental Shelf leases off their shores. The law was passed in 2006. The revenue sharing is capped for the four states at $500 million a year, when the dollars start flowing in 2017.
These revenues have been earmarked by the state of Louisiana for funding of coastal restoration in Louisiana. Eliminating this funding is a devastating blow to moving forward with projects in Louisiana’s comprehensive Coastal Master Plan. GOMESA funds in 2018 represent the largest funding source at $140 million for the state Master Plan budget planning.