Sometimes, even good Republicans start to tune out the repetitive criticism of the Obama administration, because it’s too much of a partisan slinging of slogans rather than thoughtful critiques.
We hope that Democrats and Republicans will be a more receptive audience for the criticism of the president’s new budget proposal that takes money away from the Gulf Coast states.
U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-Baton Rouge, called attention to the shortcomings of the proposed budget during a congressional hearing in New Orleans on energy issues.
That the Louisiana coast is a natural resource for the nation’s energy and fisheries production is obvious. Louisiana and coastal states have been deeply impacted by drilling activities but haven’t shared much in the way of offshore oil and gas revenues.
Cassidy was spot-on in his assessment of Obama’s budget plan: “His budget proposed to redirect revenue derived from energy produced off of Louisiana’s coast toward unrelated projects. This money, by Louisiana’s state Constitution, would be used to restore Louisiana’s wetlands.”
The revenue-sharing law — owing much to the leadership of Cassidy’s Democratic predecessor, Mary Landrieu — would provide significant new funding over time from offshore revenue. Instead of following through on his many rhetorical commitments to Louisiana’s recovery in this area, Obama’s Department of Interior would keep the state money and use it on other projects.
Louisiana might well get something from Interior under the proposed deal, dribs and drabs probably, compared with current law. For implementation of long-term coastal protection and restoration in our state, it’s critically important that the current law be carried out — if not expanded, as Cassidy has urged.
“Louisiana is counting on the revenues derived from offshore energy production to fund a portion of the projects necessary to restore our coast,” Cassidy told the hearing. “This is important to Louisiana and to the rest of the nation. Close to 18 percent of U.S. oil production and about 24 percent of U.S. natural gas production originates, is transported through or is processed in Louisiana’s coastal wetlands.”
The senator drew attention to the significant environmental impact of oil and gas development, although Cassidy — like Landrieu before him — is a proponent of more drilling in the state and off its shores. While the nation needs oil and gas, and will for its foreseeable energy future, it comes with a cost.
The Gulf of Mexico revenue sharing, called GOMESA because of the legislation that enabled it, is simply a must-have piece for Louisiana.
We hope that Cassidy and his colleagues in the delegation continue to make the case for revenue sharing for offshore energy development. It is an existential crisis for Louisiana, not one that involves the usual political back-and-forth.