Law Protecting Gulf States in Jeopardy

By  | 

Washington, D.C.
For nearly ten years Gulf States have enjoyed benefits from GOMESA, or the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act.

"It provides compensation for the cost and dangers of oil production," said Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama.

The bipartisan bill created revenue sharing provisions for Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas for their involvement and oil and gas production.

"It's only fair that we receive an enhanced part of the royalties and tax revenues from offshore drilling," said Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi.

That revenue goes to protection for natural disasters.

"Funds go to rebuilding our coastline so when the next Katrina comes, there's wetlands to buffer to protect us," said Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana.

But President Obama has nixed the plan in his version of the budget.

"It's something we agreed on and it should not be changed," said Sessions.

Seven senators, all Republicans, from those states signed on to a letter to the president, telling him they oppose his plan and will take action to stop it.

"I think we wanted to make clear that we need to nip this in the bud," Wicker said.

They say they’re already barely taking a fraction of the revenue.

"Over the last 3 years the federal government has received $22 billion and the four Gulf Coast states have received $4 million," Cassidy said.

The president wants instead to channel funds to other conservation programs around the country, like the Everglades and Chesapeake Bay.

"You want to talk about important conservation," said Sen. David Vitter. "It doesn’t get more significant, more of a crisis than that.

But Senate members say they're confident that this part of the budget won’t get through Congress. They trust that the bipartisan agreement from 2006 will carry on. The president did not immediately respond to the letter.