CPRA chairman: Congress should act to fund coastal preservation in Louisiana

The restoration and protection of Louisiana’s coast has proudly been a unifying issue for our state. Governors, state legislators, local leaders, and members of our congressional delegation from both parties have come together time and time again to support the implementation of the Coastal Master Plan.

This unity has produced important results for our coast including the unanimous passage of the Coastal Master Plan in 2007, 2012, and 2017; the federal passage of the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA) in 2006; and the companion state constitutional amendment dedicating GOMESA dollars to the coastal trust fund.

This week, a new bipartisan effort by Congressman Garret Graves, R-Baton Rouge, and Congressman Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, was introduced that deserves our full support. House Resolution 3814 would increase the amount of GOMESA revenues that would flow to Louisiana and other Gulf Coast energy producing states in support of coastal protection and restoration. It would also bring federal revenue sharing with those states closer to parity with inland states.

Modifying GOMESA to increase the amount available to Louisiana for the protection and restoration of our coast is a more rational approach than the long-standing, reactionary, and more-costly method of sending funds only after a disaster strikes.

In 2018, Louisiana received around $83 million and in 2019 almost $95 million from GOMESA. This funding has allowed us to fully fund the construction of a permanent barge gate across Bayou Chene in St. Mary Parish, an $80 million investment, and allocate $300 million for protection projects over the next three years.

While these revenues are welcomed, they represent only a fraction of what was produced in the Gulf. In 2017, qualified revenues from Gulf of Mexico production provided $3.78 billion to the federal treasury and $188 million was disbursed to the four Gulf energy-producing states and their 42 coastal political subdivisions.

This amounts to only 4.97 percent. Additionally, should qualified revenues continue to rise, the annual amount shared with the Gulf states is capped at $375 million through 2055.

Reps. Graves' and Richmond’s bill recognizes that America’s economy is stronger because of coastal Louisiana’s abundant resources. With the additional revenues this bill would provide, our state can construct needed coastal protection projects to defend our working coast and protect our nation’s energy infrastructure. And the sooner we build that infrastructure, the sooner we begin saving money for the federal government by lessening the destruction and the resulting cost of rebuilding.

HR 3814 is not only fiscally responsible, it is urgently needed. I fully support the passage of this vital piece of legislation and every person who cares about the future of south Louisiana should, toO.

See The Advocate article . . .