Obama’s Budget Tries To Steal Louisiana’s Offshore Royalty Payments, And All Hell Is Breaking Loose Locally

The Times-Picayune’s writeup of the news that the Obama budget will re-route offshore oil revenue-sharing away from the states doesn’t quite contain the depth of the anger local pols are expressing on the subject.

To NOLA.com for the meat

President Barack Obama is proposing that offshore revenue sharing — slated to begin in 2017 — be scrapped with a plan that would provide “broad natural resource, watershed and conservation benefits for the entire nation.” The proposal is part of the president’s $4 trillion budget, unveiled Monday (Feburary 2).

The revenue sharing, part of 2006 energy legislation co-sponsored by Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., was expected to generate hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue annually for Louisiana for coastal restoration.

The 2006 energy law allocates 37.5 percent of revenue from many outer continental shelf leases — up to $500 million annually — be distributed to the Gulf States. But the administration said that it should benefit the entire nation.

“The outer continental shelf is owned by all Americans,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said. “We believe that needs to be re-examined to look at what is a fair return to taxpayers across the whole United States.”

The Picayune covered some of the reaction to the plan. Here’s Mary Landrieu on the president she voted with 97 percent of the time trashing her primary legislative accomplishment…

But Landrieu, who pushed through the revenue sharing provisions in 2006 along with former Republican Energy Committee Chair Pete Domenici, said: “This is a real and grave threat to Louisiana’s three-decade march to save our coast, America’s Wetlands. The administration’s proposal is short sited and a gross injustice to Gulf Coast states. I trust our delegation has the will and strength to kill it immediately.”

Some of this the NOLA.com story has, but the reaction has been severe.

David Vitter…

“The President’s budget plan to funnel the Gulf states’ offshore energy revenue out of those states is incredibly insulting to Louisianians. In Louisiana, federal revenue from offshore energy activity goes directly to coastal restoration. Our coasts are the first line of defense to a hurricane or tropical storm; plus, they represent a critical part of our ecosystem. We’re losing large amounts of coastline every day, and funding our coastal restoration projects is incredibly important.”

Bill Cassidy…

“The president’s proposal is a blueprint. A deeply flawed blueprint. The Senate Appropriations Committee finances the budget and the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has oversight over any changes to GOMESA. I will do everything in my power to use my seats on these committees to not only block the President’s raid on oil and gas revenues, but fight to increase Louisiana’s share of offshore revenue. Funding for coastal restoration must remain a promise to Louisiana and other Gulf Coast states.”

And here’s Scott Angelle, running against Vitter and competing for the title of Most Pissed At Obama…

“How is it that with the stroke of a pen Washington thinks it can wage war on coastal Louisiana? As head of the Department of Natural Resources, I was proud to be a part of a generation of leaders that convinced the legislature to dedicate any future offshore revenue to coastal restoration and hurricane protection. In 2006, the Louisiana voters overwhelming followed suit and approved a constitutional amendment to do just that.”

“We successfully fought back when the White House tried to shut down offshore drilling in 2010 and we will surely fight back again and win on securing the funding ‎to restore and protect our coast.”

There are more reactions out there to come, and we’ll pass them along as we find them.

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