Louisiana needs that offshore royalty

Louisiana has been having a major problem along its coast, which has been disappearing at more than the size of a football field every hour.

That problem may be getting bigger in the future.We thought that Washington, D.C. realized Louisiana was losing its coast at epidemic speed, and that coast, also, is part of America.

The main reason for that disappearance has been the damage caused by oil exploration and production, during which canals have been dug by oil companies with the understanding that portions of the coast destroyed would be repaired or replaced by the companies doing the damage.

But that has been a rare occurrence. Once the oil field work is finished, it is difficult to find a long-term crew at work to repair the damage and save the coast. It is a forgotten promise as crews go elsewhere in search of oil.

So the result has been open waters and more open waters as the canals stay in place and more boats make use of them, oil field related or otherwise, for their own purposes. And this leads to more invasion by the Gulf and disappearance of the Louisiana coast, which is fast becoming open water.

In recent years, however, Louisiana developed a 50-year coastal restoration plan that was designed to help restore the coast. It included diverting sediment from the Mississippi and other rivers into the eroding wetlands to help make them solid. There were also other projects such as piping sediment and fresh water into those wetlands to help build up coastal beaches that would hold back the tide and help the vegetation develop to keep the land together.

The only problem was finding the money to finance the many projects it would take to serve the purpose. In cooperation with this plan in the state, the federal government passed an energy law in 2006 in which states along the Gulf of Mexico affected by the coastal destruction caused by oil exploration and production would get 37.5 percent of offshore federal royalty payments for drilling off their coasts beginning in the year 2017.

That seemed to solve the future problem of financing cost of the 50-year coastal restoration plan, which is the main hope for keeping coastal Louisiana out of the Gulf of Mexico. It would keep it healthy economically so its coast can continue to provide livings for many people in the oilfield and sporting businesses, and help south Louisiana continue to be a paradise for sports activities and productive industries.

But just last week we ran into a possible problem.

The Obama administration has proposed to scrap giving the extra revenue to the states along the Gulf and divide it among all the states of America. That would leave Louisiana with a very small amount of money to help pay for a big project along the coast. It would just about destroy our efforts to restore our coast in anywhere near 50 years.

Rep. Cedric Richmond, who represents part of St. Charles Parish and usually supports the president’s policies, has asked him to reverse course on the matter and support allowing that 37.5 percent of the royalty to go toward restoration of our valuable coast. Without it, our country would lose some of its most valuable property.

Hopefully, D.C. officials will come to the conclusion that it takes many different directions to run a country with 50 states. The important thing is to aim the actions of the administration and Congress in the directions that will best serve the purposes of the country-at-large.

And in the case of saving the Louisiana coastline, it is to use that royalty from the Gulf to preserve it and preserve the nation as it needs to be.


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