Today’s editorial in the paper says we need a fir share of offshore profits and leases.
In Louisiana, we think we invented offshore drilling. We kind of did, although the record books cited by The Wall Street Journal give the nod to California. For what? In 1897, nearly four decades after the first successful oil well was drilled on land in Pennsylvania, a series of rigs off the coast of California were attached to narrow, wooden, quarter-mile-long piers, designed to drill in water up to 35 feet deep. But more realistically, the first productive well to be drilled beyond the sight of land was when Kerr-McGee Oil Industries went roughly 10 miles off the Louisiana coast in 1947. Those waters were 18 feet deep. Today, oil from miles below the ocean’s surface is drilled in the Gulf of Mexico. Giant billion-dollar platforms are producing energy for the nation and the world – not only here, but even offshore in places like Saudi Arabia, where most of the oil and gas comes from land-based drilling. Location, location, location: That’s got a lot to do with Louisiana leaders’ obsession with where the oil comes from.nola.com
Of course the ignore the fact that wind farms will be there but the desire for money will be the same.
No governmental issue comes from nowhere, and our issues with offshore oil production grew around 50 years ago as that business grew and onshore production of energy lagged. Old turn-of-the-last-century fields from Pine Island in Caddo Parish to newer areas like the Tuscaloosa Trend north of Baton Rouge were depleted, at least as much as 20th-century technology could extract oil and gas. With that shift, Louisiana took a financial hit. The history of the state over the last 50 years or so is that of a painful process of starting to pay our own way as the oil and gas revenues that flooded into Baton Rouge either busted flat – the mid-1980s – or declined more slowly because energy production shifted offshore. Louisiana has always felt it got shortchanged as the U.S. Treasury got the lion’s share of money from oil extracted in the Gulf of Mexico. Even our delegation in Congress, powerful as it was in the 1970s, could not get the share of offshore revenues that the state felt it deserved. After all, oil and other minerals mined in places like Wyoming on federal lands had a 50% share for the state. Louisiana, as today, continues to service offshore drilling from Port Fourchon and other places along the coast. While that is economically valuable, much of the severance taxes and royalties go to Washington, D.C.
The congressional delegation is working on this now.
That is why the Louisiana delegation is today still fighting an uphill battle for more revenue sharing. The landmark 2006 law pushed by then-U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and her colleagues from the state, which gave Louisiana and other Gulf states a share of energy revenues capped at about $375 million a year, would be revised to the benefit of Louisiana by the Reinvesting in Shoreline Economies and Ecosystems Act, or RISEE. That bill was blocked in the final days of the last Congress and started over in January with the new session. RISEE would lift the offshore revenue cap and provide more money to 38 coastal states, including those lining the Great Lakes. In Congress, as in kindergarten, sharing is caring, apparently; other states have to get something to vote for a fairer division of money that, after all, is heavily dependent on Louisiana’s support of offshore drilling. Real offshore drilling, since 1947. Yes, Louisiana benefited, in part. But that’s still a long time for the environmental impact and other costs to our state over those decades. A fairer share of offshore revenues ought to be approved by Congress.
I am glad they support this but I wish they were just as supportive for renewable energy.