Parish faces cut on offshore revenue for levees

“The GOMESA revenues certainly help the parish in its goal to provide levees and flood protection.”
— Carla Chiasson

St. Charles Parish could take up to a 60 percent cut on its anticipated share of Gulf of Mexico oil and gas royalties intended to help coastal states contend with the impact of offshore exploration.

St. Charles Parish Grants Officer Carla Chiasson said the parish’s anticipated share of GOMESA or Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act revenue was estimated at $1 million in 2018, although several variables could affect the final total.

One of them is the recent federal clarification to the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority (CPRA) Board, which states, while the act won’t be repealed, the revenue payments to all the Coastal states is expected to be significantly lower. Louisiana’s anticipated $176 million for coastal projects and an additional $36 million for coastal parishes will be significantly lower than expected, according to CPRA.

Chiasson said CPRA’s latest figures indicate Louisiana could receive nearly $70 million in revenues, which is a 50 to 60 percent reduction.

At this rate, she said the parish could see the revenue fall anywhere from $546,000 to $637,000 if it experiences the same reduction.

Parish President Larry Cochran earlier indicated he was concerned GOMESA might be repealed, adding the revenue loss could lengthen the time it takes to complete the parish’s levee protection system.

According to Chiasson, the money has been used for levee and flood protection projects and will continue to be used in the same manner going forward.

“The GOMESA revenues certainly help the parish in its goal to provide levees and flood protection,” she said. “But the reduced revenues will affect the amount of work that can be completed.”

President Donald Trump initially proposed to end billions of dollars of GOMESA payments to all four Gulf States of Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi and Texas. The potential cut comes at a time when all four states are contending with budget shortfalls in the lingering oil price downturn.

The program is part of the 2006 Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, which was aimed at promoting offshore drilling by giving states a share when Washington leases federal water for energy exploration.

From 2009 to 2016, Louisiana’s gotten a modest $11.6 million. But the figure was expected to increase, particularly to Louisiana and Texas, as more federal lands became available for leasing.

The battleground has been whether the revenues from federal waters should benefit all Americans or the people in states contending with the economic and environmental issues of producing the energy.

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