At some point, GOMESA will be acknowledged as settled law — not in a sense that it's survived court challenges, but in the sense that it's generally accepted and not subject to continuous debate.
Thankfully for Louisiana's disappearing coast, that day may have finally arrived.
President Donald Trump's first budget last year proposed basically undoing the hard-won Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006, which sends a share of federal royalties from offshore drilling to Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Alabama. Previously, former President Barack Obama had proposed the same cut, despite the fact that the measure was co-authored by a fellow Democrat, former U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu.
But not this year. Trump's new budget leaves GOMESA alone, the apparent result of an intensive lobbying and education effort by members of Louisiana's mostly Republican Congressional delegation. In explaining the administration's newfound sympathy, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke cited an eye-opening site visit late last year hosted by U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, who defeated Landrieu in 2014.
Louisiana gets the largest share of the GOMESA proceeds, and has committed to using the money for coastal restoration.
Of course, it's Congress, not any president of any party, that has the power to reverse course, and presidentially proposed budgets are best understood as wish lists rather than policy proposals bound for serious consideration. And the fact that only four states benefit means that representatives from the other 46 have reason to support spreading the money around.
Still, the change sends a signal that such a move wouldn't be an administration priority. More importantly, it may also help solidify the idea that GOMESA is no longer on the table, just as the serious money is set to start flowing.
For Louisiana, that's good news and even better timing.