Joining coastal groups and elected officials, Louisiana’s governor is asking President Barack Obama to reconsider part of his budget proposal that would stop the state from getting a greater share of offshore oil and gas revenue starting in 2017.
On Friday, Gov. John Bel Edwards sent a letter to the president asking him to reconsider this effort in light of Obama’s previous calls to provide better flood protection and sustainable coastal ecosystems.
“Despite these declarations, your proposal to eliminate the revenue sharing arrangements established by the Gulf of Mexico Energy and Security Act of 2006 will deprive Louisiana’s coastal program of its only consistent source of federal funds,” Edwards wrote.
In Louisiana, Gulf of Mexico Energy and Security Act money is constitutionally bound to go to coastal restoration projects as outlined in the state’s coastal protection and restoration master plan.
The Gulf of Mexico Energy and Security Act provides a regular source of income that could be put toward paying for the multibillion-dollar plan the state has for coastal restoration and flood protection.
The president’s proposed budget would redirect that money from the Gulf states toward programs that would “provide broad natural resource, watershed and conservation benefits to the nation.”
Edwards’ letter outlines the economic importance of Louisiana’s coast, the amount of oil and gas that flows through the state and the estimated increase in storm damages that the state can expect if nothing is done to improve coastal restoration and protection.
So far, he wrote, there has been more than $2 billion worth of projects — including barrier island restoration, shoreline protection and oyster reefs — built in the state, with an additional $2.4 billion spent on flood protection such as levees and pump stations.
“Prudently, Louisiana is not just throwing money against the rising seas and incoming hurricanes,” Edwards wrote. “It has a science-based plan to meet these challenges.”
Edwards wrote that if the president’s goal is to make investments adapting to climate change and invest in the natural economy, “you can do no better than to maintain GOMESA and support Louisiana and its Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast,” Edwards wrote.