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When slow-moving Hurricane Isaac wreaked havoc on many of our communities with punishing wind and subsequent flood waters, it refocused for us the vulnerability of our coast and the critical need for immediate investments to protect our culturally rich region.
But it also calls to mind that since 1953, more than $210 billion in bonus bids, rental rates and royalties collected from off our shores has been sent to the U.S. Treasury.
Adding insult to injury, host states like Louisiana have, in the past, shared in virtually none of these funds, while 50 percent of the revenues from energy produced on federal lands onshore is retained by those states.
This begs the question that I and many others have been asking for years: Why should energy production in federal waters be treated any differently than energy production on inland federal lands?
That is why I pushed for and passed the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act in August 2006.
This new law starts to address this problem by authorizing energy producing Gulf States to receive 37.5 percent of oil and gas revenues collected from offshore development.
This legislation brought more than $6 million into Louisiana for 2009 alone and will bring in hundreds of millions of dollars beginning in 2017.
GOMESA also opens more than 8.3 million acres of the Gulf of Mexico to energy production, which is estimated to contain 1.26 billion barrels of oil and 5.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
Passing this legislation was not easy, as we had to convince many of our colleagues of the national significance of the Gulf Coast, America’s energy coast.
GOMESA is a start but we must do more
To that end, I recently partnered with Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, to introduce the Offshore Petroleum Expansion Now Act of 2012, or OPEN Act.
This bill will eliminate the $500 million cap that Congress placed on our revenues in GOMESA.
The OPEN Act would also push the administration to expand its five-year plan for drilling in the OCS, and allow the U.S. to tap into the vast oil and gas potential off our coasts.
While the administration has proposed only 15 lease sales, the OPEN Act includes 26 sales, and it opens up areas in Virginia and Southern California that were not included in the administration’s plan.
According to a 2006 Minerals Management Service report, the OCS contains nearly 86 billion barrels of oil and 420 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
If we could drill in more places, we would not only send billions more to the Treasury Department to reduce our deficit, we would send hundreds of millions of dollars to Louisiana for our Coastal Master Plan as well as fund similar investments in other states.
It would also create millions of jobs in the U.S.
Like GOMESA, passing the OPEN Act will not be easy.
It will take a lot of hard work to convince our colleagues on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers, but it is critically important.
We have the science on our side and increasingly, the political will to stop our wetlands loss and build a world class flood protection system for all of Louisiana.
This will not only protect communities in our state, but the nation’s oil and gas, petrochemical and maritime assets as well.
This fight, however, is not just about our coast and its billions of dollars of critical infrastructure; it is a fight for our culture and a way of life that once lost can never be replaced.
Ours is a culture and a place that is certainly worth saving and I’m not going to stop until we’ve achieved justice for the Gulf.
I ask all in Louisiana to refocus and redouble our efforts to accomplish these goals.
U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., lives in New Orleans.
That is a bunch of crap, the Mississippi river is not building deltas and the down to the coast faults are slideing the coast into the ocean. Man will not stop nature. We are haveing to pay for people living in a high risk area they should not be living in. Mary Landriew where is the money going and what good is it doing ?
Terry, I'm not exactly sure what your saying but let's look at a couple of things.
The Mississippi river isn't building delta's, because man did stop nature from doing what was natural. (Army Corps of Engineers)
We are having to pay for people living in areas that were not always high risk, those areas became high risk after the USACE messed with nature.
In my opinion tax dollars paid for the harnessing of the Mississippi river in order to keep shipping interest, farmers, coal miners, manufacturers and others using the river as a predictable and reliable shipping corridor. Many people in many states made money off of harnessing the river and if they have to chip in for the damage caused by that action,then so be it.
I'm originally from Houma, La. Houma wasn't considered a high risk area before the Mississippi river was controlled. Houma was actually where people from the lower lying areas would evacuate to at one time and still do sometimes. One reason I left that area is because I realized that our federal government didn't have to money to repair what it broke. Houma is turning into a high risk area, the people of the area didn't move to a high risk area.
I will say I'm impressed with the improvements that Terrebonne parish and the State of Louisiana has made in the last three years to the levees and wetlands in Terrebonne without massive federal funds.
I'm not a big Mary Landieu fan even if she brings home the bacon.
I don't think she brought home the bacon, she ate it!
What about the millions that Chesapeake Energy is taking from Louisiana royalty owners, which, in turn, would create more tax dollars, etc....?
Could this have anything to do with the above?:
Since its creation in 2004, Chesapeake's PAC has donated major money to candidates, front group PACs and committees. Since the 2004 election year, Chesapeake's PAC has spent $1.46 million.
Here are some of the politicians and PACs that Chesapeake donated to: