St. Charles Herald-Guide

Offshore oil revenue must come this week

Allen Lottinger - December 6, 2006

This week was to be a big one in our stateís quest for a greater share of revenue from offshore oil. On Tuesday, however, the vote on a bill in the U. S. House of Representatives that would have started the process was called off.

Congressmen say, however, that the bill will be added to a tax-cut extension bill in the House that should get a favorable vote by today. If it does, however, it will have to go before the Senate again which had already passed the offshore bill in the regular session. So at this writing, it still is not certain that Louisiana will get any help from this Congress in providing some of the revenue from our offshore production to save our coast. And if we donít, we will have to start over again with a new Congress and one that is not expected to be as attentive to our needs.

Louisiana deserves and needs to get part of the royalties from oil produced off its shore. We built the infrastructure on land that produces it. And we need the funds to restore our coastline that is eroding away partly because of that production.

Canals were dug to aid in that production. They have let salt water in that killed vegetation which helped stabilize the land.

The bill before the House now is not the bill that Cong. Bobby Jindal sponsored in the regular session and passed easily. The latter would have provided us with $10 billion in the next 10 years and $2 billion a year thereafter to do the job of restoration. The Senate, however, would not pass that bill. It came up with the present bill that will provide the state with only about $20 million a year on revenue from new production until 2017 and then about $680 million a year. By then, however, whatís left of our coast could be beyond restoration.

So even if Congress passes this bill, we will need new sources of revenue to restore our coast. But perhaps it will start the senators who turned us down to be more positive in the future on what we need to save this part of our state and nation.

New outlook for future use of MR-GO

A new element has been entered into the possible future of the Mississippi River-Gulf Outlet (MR-GO). Some proponents of plugging up the little-used shipping channel from New Orleans to the Gulf of Mexico suggest that parts of it could be put to good use to divert water from the Mississippi River into the wetlands of St. Bernard Parish which were seriously damaged when the Hurricane Katrina surge came up that canal last year. That could help turn a bad thing into a good thing so long as it does not open into the Gulf for more salt water intrusion in the future.