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Bill Advances In Senate That Would Increase Louisiana’s Oil And Gas Royalties, Restoration Money

Beardo62 / Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Gulf States (TX, LA, MS, and AL) currently share 37.5 percent of royalties generated by oil and gas activity in the Gulf of Mexico. The rest goes to the federal government. Sen. Bill Cassidy's bill aims to increase the states' share to 50 percent.

A bill that could increase the amount of royalty money Louisiana gets from offshore oil and gas drilling advanced in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday.

The bill, called the Conservation of America’s Shoreline Terrain and Aquatic Life Act, or COASTAL Act, is sponsored by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La). It would reduce how much oil and gas money goes to the federal government, and increase the amount that goes to states along the Gulf of Mexico -- Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.

Right now, states get 37.5% of that money under an existing law known as the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006, or GOMESA. Cassidy’s bill would amend GOMESA to increase the share going to Gulf states to 50%.

Louisiana uses all of that money for coastal restoration, like rebuilding marshes and barrier islands.

Defending his bill to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on Tuesday, Cassidy stressed the importance of Louisiana’s coastal marshes, which reduce the impact of high tides and storm surge.

“If we don’t restore our coastline, we are going to have more flood events,” he said.

Cassidy said investing in coastal restoration would protect homes from future flooding, meaning less federal money would need to be spent on disaster recovery.

The committee voted Tuesday to advance the bill to the full Senate for a vote sometime in the future.

Gov. John Bel Edwards (D-La.) praised the news. In a statement, he said more money would mean more projects to restore and protect the coast.

Support for the Coastal Desk comes from the Greater New Orleans Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and local listeners.

As Coastal Reporter, Travis Lux covers flood protection, coastal restoration, infrastructure, the energy and seafood industries, and the environment. In this role he's reported on everything from pipeline protests in the Atchafalaya swamp, to how shrimpers cope with low prices. He had a big hand in producing the series, New Orleans: Ready Or Not?, which examined how prepared New Orleans is for a future with more extreme weather. In 2017, Travis co-produced two episodes of TriPod: New Orleans at 300 examining New Orleans' historic efforts at flood protection. One episode, NOLA vs Nature: The Other Biggest Flood in New Orleans History, was recognized with awards from the Public Radio News Directors and the New Orleans Press Club. His stories often find a wider audience on national programs, too, like NPR's Morning Edition, WBUR's Here and Now, and WHYY's The Pulse.

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