The Times-Picayune | February 10, 2016 | The Editorial Board
There are some numbers that everybody concerned about Louisiana's eroding coast knows offhand. Every 38 minutes, the state loses about a football-field-sized chunk of land. In 2017, the state is scheduled to receive 37.5 percent of the royalties that come from offshore oil and gas exploration and devote 100 percent of that money received to restoring and rebuilding the Louisiana coast. That money is eagerly anticipated because the state hasn't been getting anything. Though offshore oil and gas exploration has cost Louisiana much of its land, the federal government has been getting all the resulting royalties.
The law providing a share of royalties for offshore oil and gas exploration applies to the Gulf Coast states, but Senators David Vitter and Bill Cassidy are among the lawmakers proposing a change that would expand the number of states getting a 37.5 percent share of money and, starting in 2027, raise the amount of money each state could get per year from $500 million to $1 billion. The change is proposed in an amendment to the Energy Policy Modernaziation Act, and it would expand off-shore revenue sharing to Alaska, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia.
Since 2006, when the law passed promising Louisiana and its Gulf Coast neighbors a share of those royalties, there has been some grumbling in Washington that the arrangement will be too costly, that is, that it will divert too much money away from the U.S. Treasury. About a year ago, for example, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell said, "The outer continental shelf is owned by all Americans. We believe (the revenue sharing agreement of 2006) needs to be re-examined to look at what is a fair return to taxpayers across the whole United States."
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