A bill that could increase the amount of royalty money Louisiana gets from offshore oil and gas drilling advanced in the U.S. Senate on Tuesday.
The bill, called the Conservation of America’s Shoreline Terrain and Aquatic Life Act, or COASTAL Act, is sponsored by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La). It would reduce how much oil and gas money goes to the federal government, and increase the amount that goes to states along the Gulf of Mexico -- Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.
Right now, states get 37.5% of that money under an existing law known as the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006, or GOMESA. Cassidy’s bill would amend GOMESA to increase the share going to Gulf states to 50%.
Louisiana uses all of that money for coastal restoration, like rebuilding marshes and barrier islands.
Defending his bill to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on Tuesday, Cassidy stressed the importance of Louisiana’s coastal marshes, which reduce the impact of high tides and storm surge.
“If we don’t restore our coastline, we are going to have more flood events,” he said.
Cassidy said investing in coastal restoration would protect homes from future flooding, meaning less federal money would need to be spent on disaster recovery.
The committee voted Tuesday to advance the bill to the full Senate for a vote sometime in the future.
Gov. John Bel Edwards (D-La.) praised the news. In a statement, he said more money would mean more projects to restore and protect the coast.
Support for the Coastal Desk comes from the Greater New Orleans Foundation, the Walton Family Foundation, and local listeners.