Democrats to Demand Oil and Gas Industry Pay Fair Share for Coastal Restoration

Washington, D.C. – At an Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee hearing tomorrow morning on offshore revenue sharing with Gulf Coast states, Committee Democrats will demand that the oil and gas industry take responsibility for its significant role in causing the destruction of Louisiana wetlands, and pay its fair share to help repair the damage.

In 2006, Congress passed the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA), which redirected up to $375 million each year in offshore revenues away from all American taxpayers and to state and local governments in Louisiana, Texas, Alabama, and Mississippi. The Republican Tax Scam Act, signed into law in December, increased that amount to $487.5 million for 2020 and 2021. The Louisiana congressional delegation has consistently argued that more money belonging to all Americans should be spent to help the state cover its $50 billion coastal restoration master plan.

The New York Times best-selling author John M. Barry, former member of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority – East and the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, and driving force behind a 2013 lawsuit against 97 oil and gas companies in an effort to get them to repair damage they caused to Louisiana’s wetlands over the past century, stated the following in his written testimony for the hearing:

“The industry recently received an enormous boon from you, in the tax cut. It is also receiving regulatory relief, saving it more money. It is now time that the federal government require it to repair not everything, just the part of the problem it created, and share in the costs with taxpayers.”

Professor Oliver A. Houck of Tulane University Law School, an expert on coastal restoration issues, wrote the following in his testimony submitted for the record:

“The Louisiana coast is collapsing rapidly, and an expenditure of $50 billion will be necessary even to reduce the rate of loss… The primary human causes of this collapse have been activities of the US Army Corps of Engineers, the State of Louisiana, and the Oil and Gas Industry.  Two of these three, the Corps and the State, have largely accepted their responsibility and are engaged in major projects and expenditures to redress the harm. The Industry, however, has yet to accept either the extent of the role its access canals, sub-surface extraction, and pipelines have played in this collapse, nor its responsibility to respond to it in any commensurate way.”

A study by the U.S. Geological Survey in 2000 attributed 36 percent of Louisiana’s coastal land loss since 1932 directly to oil and gas industry activities, while a report conducted for the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources concluded that the same activities were responsible for 76 percent of the land loss in two coastal Louisiana parishes. [Relevant report findings on page 5-9]

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