St. Charles Parish President V.J. St. Pierre said the state is looking forward to a large increase in oil tax revenues in the next few years, which could greatly improve the parish’s ability to construct a West Bank levee.
The revenues are estimated to be capped at $500 million and will be slated for coastal restoration and protection efforts. Under the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA) passed in 2006, Louisiana is set to receive hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenues from offshore drilling in 2017. However, Sen. Mary Landrieu is trying to speed up the process so the state receives that revenue next year.
St. Pierre said taxes for offshore drilling that would have ordinarily gone to coastal states have been diverted to inland states since the 1940s.
"Right now there is $6 billion a year being generated from offshore revenues and it goes to no coastal states, it all goes into inland people," St. Pierre said. "That’s a lot of money we’ve been losing since 1947."
St. Pierre says his preference is to have the funds go to hurricane protection, which would include both the St. Charles West Bank levee and the West Shore Levee project.
An aide for Landrieu said a bill that would give the state the extra tax revenues in 2014 should be introduced next week.
"We’ve never had an Energy Committee Chairman like Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) who has been supportive, but we feel like with him there is a pretty good chance it will get through. It isn’t easy to pass anything through Congress though," Landrieu’s aide said.
In addition to accelerating payments under GOMESA, the bill is anticipated to remove the $500 million cap on revenues that can be paid to states and would not limit the funding to coastal restoration projects.