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Senate bill would be little help to Louisiana

Allen Lottinger -   Aug 03, 2006

We would get about $2 billion a year thereafter. Problem with the House bill is that it could, in the end, allow drillling off the east and west coasts, which some states do not want.

Back in the early fifties, Pres. Harry Truman offered Louisiana 37 1/2 percent of the royalties on minerals produced off the Louisiana coast. Judge Leander Perez, a political powerhouse at the time, convinced Gov. Earl Long to turn it down because he wanted 100 percent of it.

How wrong we were. Now we get very little beyond the three-mile limit at a time when we need billions of dollars to preserve our coast.

This week, the Senate passed a bill that provides 37 1/2 percent royalty to  the four Gulf Coast states - - Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama - - on new production in an 8.3 million acre area of the Gulf of Mexico.

The Senate bill will provide only $200 million over the next decade since it is only on new production in one area. This is not nearly enough to stop the erosionfrom the Gulf that is eating up Louisiana. After 2017, it would produce $650 million a year for the state. In the meantime, most of our coast will be gone.

A bill passed in the House earlier this summer, on the other hand, would give us 50 percent of all royalties produced offshore. This would mean some $9 billion for the state in the next 10 years, a healthy start for the projects at hand.

Rep. Bobby Jindal who pushed the House bill hopes that a compromise can be reached between the two bills that will allow more revenue for Louisiana in the early years. Bargaining over the bills is expected to take place in September after the Congressional recess.

If the Senate bill gets through as is, we can write off the future of the Louisiana coast unless some other source of funding is found. The money needed to save it is far more than the puny amount the Senate is willing to give us in the decade ahead.

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