Coastal parishes need money for saving land and hurricane relief. There is a way and it needs to be passed.
On behalf of the leaders of Louisiana’s 20 coastal parishes, we call on our federal congressional delegation to ensure that the Reinvesting in Shoreline Economies and Ecosystems Act is signed into law before the end of the year. Without it, the Gulf Coast will miss out on billions of dollars that would otherwise be invested in enhancing the resilience of the communities, businesses and unique ecosystems of south Louisiana. By removing an arbitrary cap on revenue sharing under the existing Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act and establishing, for the first time, revenue sharing from offshore wind development, RISEE would allow for coastal communities like ours to invest in our own protection before the next hurricane strikes. It would also bring a dose of fairness to existing outer continental shelf energy revenue sharing, and make sure that renewable energy production in the Gulf also supports the communities that house the workers and supply chains needed to bring that power ashore. Whether it is today’s oil and gas production or the near future’s offshore wind energy production, these essential energy services depend on the infrastructure, supply chains, intact coastal environments and workers in nearby coastal communities. For this reason, RISEE and GOMESA both require that their funds be reinvested in hurricane protection and ecosystem restoration for a stronger, healthier coast. Despite the preventative and principled investments being made with these revenues, the amount shared with energy-producing states and local governments, around 4%, is insufficient and will likely decrease over time as an overall share of energy revenues if the cap stays in place.nola.com
These two acts will give the parishes money to do necessary things to stay viable.
The RISEE Act is also timely, as the Department of Interior will conduct the first offshore wind lease sales off Louisiana’s shores in the first half of 2023. Louisiana already plays host to the coastal workforce and supply chain that is vital for the deployment of offshore wind up and down the Atlantic coast, but without revenue sharing established, no funds from the Gulf of Mexico’s offshore wind energy production will be available to fortify our own critical coastal communities and ecosystems. Revenues from offshore energy production are essential for the future of coastal Louisiana. GOMESA funds are supporting major projects that benefit our most vulnerable communities, which are often located in areas that face some of the greatest risks from storms. With inflation adding expense to all projects and the increasing risk from hurricanes abundantly clear, our parishes truly need additional funding to sustain the momentum of our existing hurricane protection investments and to do even more. Fortunately, Louisiana has been leading on this effort — on the science, with our renowned coastal master plan, and with a track record of implementing effective risk reduction and ecosystem restoration projects. Now, thanks to the efforts of our delegation, Louisiana will be at the vanguard of legislative efforts to put our nation’s coastal adaptation efforts on more sustainable financial footing as well.
We thank our congressional delegation but three of them are missing from notice.
We are very appreciative of the support from every member of our delegation on coastal issues. Regarding current legislation, Sens. Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy have cosponsored the RISEE Act in the Senate, where it passed the committee of jurisdiction unanimously. Reps. Steve Scalise and Troy Carter have cosponsored similar reforms in the House. It is imperative that the RISEE Act is included in any end-of-the-year legislative package being considered by Congress. Given the momentum behind the RISEE Act and the positive impact it can have on our communities’ resilience, we strongly encourage the full Louisiana Congressional delegation to make an end-of-the-year push for its passage. Now is the time. We cannot afford to wait any longer.
Matthew Jewell is president of St. Charles Parish. Archie Chaisson is president of Lafourche Parish. This shows bipartisan efforts and that is what is needed.