WASHINGTON, D.C.— House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) authored an op-ed in the Times-Picayune to discuss his continued efforts to preserve Louisiana’s offshore revenue sharing dollars, which are vital to restoring Louisiana’s coastline to good health. He especially noted recent accomplishments in this effort, including President Trump’s decision to include these royalties in his 2018 budget proposal and the revenue sharing cap increase that was included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.
On Aug. 29, 2005, southeast Louisiana was hit with a storm that would change the lives of Louisianians forever. The destruction caused by Hurricane Katrina not only devastated the people of Louisiana, but also significantly damaged our coastline and the landscape of our state.
With 217 square miles of Louisiana coastal wetlands destroyed by Katrina, it became more evident than ever just how important our coastline is to protecting our communities and the people we love. One year after Katrina, Congress passed the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, or GOMESA, that for the first time established offshore energy revenue sharing with Gulf states.
Recognizing the urgency and necessary investments needed to protect our coastline, Louisiana voters overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment that I cosponsored as a state legislator, dedicating our share of GOMESA revenues to coastal restoration and protection.
Today, Louisiana is losing a football field of wetlands to erosion every hour and more than 16 square miles of coastline a year. More than a decade has passed since Katrina made landfall, and this funding becomes more vital every day for the protection of our state. We simply cannot afford to jeopardize or lose coastal restoration funding.
Unfortunately, for the better part of a decade, our revenue sharing dollars have been a target for Washington politicians of both parties. President Barack Obama, and even President Donald Trump last year, proposed to repeal GOMESA. This past week, however, the Trump administration made clear it is on our side.
After personally meeting with President Trump and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney at Camp David in January, I was able to convince them of the vital importance of revenue-sharing dollars for Louisiana and other coastal states. The president and Mr. Mulvaney listened and preserved offshore revenue-sharing funds in the White House budget proposal rolled out last week.
This preservation sets a good precedent for future budget proposals and is especially important following the enactment of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. During tax reform negotiations, I worked closely with Sen. Bill Cassidy to secure a provision that lifted our revenue-sharing caps. This provision will increase revenue sharing for Gulf states by $300 million, and Louisiana should expect to receive at least $100 million of that funding, specifically dedicated to restoring our coast and strengthening our protection against future storms.
In Louisiana, we know our coastline is the first line of defense from powerful Gulf storms. Protecting it will not only be an investment in Louisiana, but in the infrastructure our entire nation depends on for energy, fisheries and trade. Louisiana is responsible for producing nearly a quarter of our nation’s oil and gas, making our state essential to President Trump’s plan for American energy dominance. Additionally, Louisiana is home to five of the top 15 ports in America, producing more than $182 billion in global economic output annually. Louisiana also boasts more than 43,000 commercial and recreational fishing jobs, generating $1.8 billion in sales for the U.S. seafood industry.
I am proud of the economic impact our state has on the entire nation, and I will never stop fighting to ensure Louisiana receives our fair share of offshore revenues to protect the state and coast that we love.