WASHINGTON — The adviser to Gov. Bobby Jindal on coastal matters sparred with House Democrats on Wednesday over how much money Louisiana stands to make on offshore oil and gas drilling revenue.
Democrats on the House Natural Resources Committee contend Louisiana and three other coastal states will receive $150 billion over the next 50 years due to a law passed in 2006.
The chairman of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority of Louisiana, Garret Graves, said the state has received $6 million from the law since its passage, including $220,000 this year.
“There were a couple of zeros missing from our check,” Graves said.
Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz., said he checked the Jindal website, which boasted that Louisiana would receive billions from the law.
House Democrats oppose any new revenue sharing, pointing to the debt and deficit debate going on in Congress.
The senior Democrat on the committee, Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., likened allowing the revenue stream to giving the states the rights to stick a straw in the Gulf of Mexico and suck out its royalties.
Markey called revenue sharing “welfare for the states.”
“What we’re doing here today is finding a way to take more revenues from the federal government,” Markey said. “It would be fine if the federal government was rolling in dough, which it’s not.”
Markey said he will introduce a measure to repeal the 2006 law.
The legislation would not be anticipated to pass in a Republican House.
The exchanges occurred at a hearing held to look into establishing new legislation that would provide more revenue to coastal states like Louisiana with drilling off its shores.
Louisiana joins Texas, Alabama and Mississippi in receiving 37.5 percent of revenue from new drilling in the Gulf. Louisiana, which handles a third of the nation’s energy output, keeps half of the money.
The bulk of the revenue coming to the state will not begin until 2017.
After the hearing, Graves said the state expects less than $100 million coming in that year. The law caps any windfall at $500 million a year, Graves said.
“I don’t think you’re going to see a surge for some time,” Graves told the committee.
Graves also told the committee that the recent drilling ban and slowing of new drilling permits by the Obama administration will affect the amount of money available.
Graves noted that the federal government received $7.8 billion from Gulf oil and gas revenues this year.
“This is one of the largest revenue streams to the federal government,” Graves said.
Pointing to the debt and deficit debate, Grijalva criticized Graves for calling the revenue plan “fiscally prudent.”
“Tell that to someone on Medicare,” Grijalva shot back.
Graves got support from committee Chairman Doc Hastings, R-Wash.
Hastings, who is considering fashioning the new offshore revenue legislation, said the federal government would benefit from the move.
New drilling will also bring new revenue to the federal government too, Hastings said.
“If you’re not drilling, you’re not getting any revenue,” Hastings said. “One hundred percent of nothing is nothing.”
A Senate plan offered by Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., failed to get a vote last week in the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Landrieu predicted, however, that the measure would eventually clear the Senate.