BATON ROUGE - Gov. John Bel Edwards today asked President Barack Obama to withdraw his budget proposal redirecting anticipated federal offshore oil revenues away from Louisiana and other states bordering the Gulf of Mexico. In 2006 Congress promised those funds to the states starting in 2017, but President Obama’s budget for fiscal year 2017 instead shares those revenues with the rest of the nation.

In a letter to the president, Gov. Edwards said the budget proposal will deprive Louisiana of its only consistent source of federal funds for our coastal program, an estimated $176 million per year.

“The Gulf of Mexico Energy and Security Act of 2006 [GOMESA] was supposed to be the foundation of that program—finally providing a reliable, recurring revenue stream to support Louisiana’s coastal restoration and protection work. In 2006, Louisiana’s citizens voted overwhelmingly to constitutionally dedicate the revenues received through GOMESA for its coastal protection and restoration program.”

The governor’s letter stressed the importance of the funding to accomplishing the state coastal master plan for restoring and protecting Louisiana’s vital coast, calling it “…a science-based plan to meet these challenges that include massive public investments in the restoration of America’s largest river delta, structural protection where necessary, and an extensive program to flood-proof, elevate, and voluntarily acquire homes and businesses at greatest risk of flooding.”

In addition to sediment deprivation, subsidence and sea level rise, Louisiana’s coast has been further damaged in recent years by massive storms, including Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, and by the ongoing effects resulting from the BP oil spill in 2010. Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) has been anticipating the promised funds as a means of helping to self-fund recovery, protection and restoration efforts.

While visiting New Orleans for the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, President Obama indicated a willingness to work with Louisiana and other Gulf states to preserve the funding agreement as long as he was comfortable that the money would be used for environmental purposes. Gov. Edwards and his executive assistant for coastal activities, CPRA Chair Johnny Bradberry, say they will work with Louisiana’s congressional delegation to remind the president of his statements while in New Orleans, and to ask Congress to live up to its original GOMESA agreement.

“Mr. President,” the governor wrote, “if you are interested in promoting nationally significant investments in the natural economy, supporting innovative measures to adapt to climate change, and promoting the ‘climate-smart economy of the future’ you can do no better than to maintain GOMESA and supporting Louisiana and its Comprehensive Master Plan for a Sustainable Coast.

 

To read Gov. Edwards' letter to President Obama, click here.