As hurricane season begins, we should all make preparations to protect our families and homes in the event a storm heads our way. Similarly, we must do all we can to protect our communities for the long term through robust efforts to rebuild our eroding coastline, which is our first line of defense from hurricanes.
Louisiana’s coastal and offshore areas are blessed with an abundance of natural resources. We produce nearly a quarter of America’s oil and gas and about 20 percent of all commercial fish landings in the lower 48 states, and we have five of the nation’s 15 largest ports here in South Louisiana. Unfortunately, our coast — which protects so much of this economic engine — is disappearing at a rapid rate. Louisiana has lost nearly 2,000 square miles of land since the 1930s, and today we continue to lose a football field of land every hour on average. Our commitment to protect this valuable resource must be strong. This is a critical issue, and one that is very important to me.
This year marks the beginning of revenue sharing for Louisiana from oil and gas development in the Gulf. This means around $140 million annually, which is dedicated directly to coastal restoration. For decades, we have watched as interior states have reaped the benefits of natural resource production onshore, while revenue generated from production off Louisiana’s coast is shipped away to Washington. That changes this year, and the money we receive will go directly to funding important coastal restoration projects. Almost a quarter of the nation’s oil and gas is produced off our coast, and it’s long overdue that Louisiana is treated fairly by sharing in those royalties paid by oil and gas companies.
Over the past few years there have been attempts to take this revenue away from Louisiana and other energy-producing states. But make no mistake: like in previous years, I will not allow this critical coastal restoration money to be raided. It is too important to Louisiana’s future and is vital to our coastal restoration efforts. This isn’t a partisan issue, and we enjoy strong bipartisan support in protecting these funds for Louisiana and other Gulf states.
So as we begin this hurricane season, let’s all do what we can to prepare for storms we hope to never confront, and I’ll continue to fight in Washington, with the rest of our delegation, for the revenue sharing dollars we have earned. Our coast is our first line of defense from future storms, and it’s home to so many of our — and our country’s — most valuable resources. Defending this vital asset has been and will continue to be one of my top priorities in Congress.
Editor’s Note: This piece originally appeared at NOLA.com.