Mr. Kline goes to Washington, pushing for more offshore drilling money for Louisiana

    The chairman of Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority is scheduled to testify Thursday before a Congressional committee in support of legislation that would give coastal states a greater share of revenues generated by offshore drilling activity in the Gulf of Mexico.

    CPRA Board Chair Chip Kline will testify before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which is considering a bill sponsored by Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy that would increase the share of offshore drilling revenues that goes to coastal states under the GOMESA program.

    GOMESA, or the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, was passed in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita and created a revenue-sharing program, funded by revenues from certain offshore drilling activity, for Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama.

    Under the program, the four participating states receive 37.5% of revenues from eligible leases in the Gulf, which represent just 5% of total leases in the Gulf. In 2018, Louisiana received $83 million, which by law, must be dedicated to the state’s coastal trust fund.

    Inland producing states, however, receive 50% of revenues from drilling activity under a separate law, creating what Kline says is a huge and unjust disparity.

    “In fiscal 2019, New Mexico got a check for $1.1 billion for its drilling activity” compared  to our $83 million in GOMESA money, he says. “We are reinvesting in our coast, which allows for oil and gas production to take place to begin with. We are sustaining the infrastructure that allows the activity to take place … and we should be compensated for it.”

    Kline’s appearance on Capitol Hill, his second visit in the past few weeks, comes as key parts of Louisiana’s coastal master plan are being criticized by local governments in Mississippi, who are worried about the impact of planned sediment diversion projects on coastal fisheries.

    Kline says he and others from the CPRA have met with Mississippi’s Congressional delegation to assure them that GOEMSA dollars will not be spent on sediment diversion projects, which are funded from BP oil spill settlement dollars.

    He acknowledges, however, that Louisiana still has work to do to convince Mississippi officials that the large-scale diversions will not be as harmful to their coastal ecosystems as some are now suggesting.

    “We are going to have to spend a little time down there in Mississippi to make sure they hear from both sides,” he says.

    Read Stephanie Riegel’s column on rising concerns regarding Louisiana’s coastal master plan here.

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