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Graves Statement on “Blue New Deal” Introduced by Colleagues that Would Ban Offshore Drilling

October 22, 2020
Press Release
Legislation would improve jobs, energy markets, and inject billions of dollars in economic activity in Russia, Saudi Arabia, and China

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Congressman Garret Graves (South Louisiana) released the following statement in response to the Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that disguises knee-capping offshore energy production in the name of reforming federal ocean management. The legislation, conveniently introduced two weeks before Election Day, builds on top of many attempts this year to eradicate offshore energy production while the same folks have simultaneously passed legislation to steer offshore revenues to the same states that oppose production.

Graves’ Statement:

“We are certain that the Russians, Saudis and Chinese are most appreciative of these members of Congress doing so much for their countries, but maybe we could actually focus on what is best for Americans. Just a thought,” Graves said. “For those looking to eliminate funding for hurricane protection for those communities in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida, this is the bill for you. For those wanting to increase greenhouse gases, this is your bill. For those that have been begging to pay more to heat and cool their homes, support this one. For those of you that have always wanted to pay more to fill your car with gas, this bill takes care of that. For the actual Americans out there that want to represent their citizens, this bill is consistent with the stupidity we have seen from the Natural Resources Committee as it relates to energy and climate policy.”

Statement from the Louisiana Mid-Continent Oil & Gas Association (LMOGA):

“Any efforts to cut off oil and gas leasing in the Gulf of Mexico and the Outer Continental Shelf threatens America’s energy independence and the way of life for hundreds of thousands of Louisiana families,” said LMOGA President Tyler Gray. “The Ocean-Based Climate Solutions Act is not a solution at all. It is a reckless act potentially impacting 20% of America’s domestic energy production and ultimately increasing our dependence on less reliable foreign energy sources while threatening the energy security we have fought so hard for."

“This backwards proposal would have drastic impacts on the communities that depend on our tax revenues for local governments, environmental programs and the protection and resiliency of our coast,” said Gray. “Local communities throughout Louisiana already reeling from the impacts of the pandemic, would be significantly impacted by any proposal that threatens access to energy development, halting our state’s ability to reap the benefits the energy industry has provided to generations of Louisianans.”

Statement from Lori Leblanc, Executive Director of the Gulf Economic Survival Team (GEST):

"The offshore oil and gas industry is a critical piece of our nation's economy, and most especially for small businesses and families throughout the Gulf coast who depend on the industry’s high wage jobs. This act of prohibiting leasing in all areas of the outer continental shelf in the Gulf of Mexico is extremely short-sighted and will hurt our Gulf coast citizens at a time when they are already struggling as a result of the pandemic and the economic downturn. Now, more than ever we should be investing in America’s offshore oil and natural gas industry as opposed to cutting it off, increasing our dependence on foreign resources and sending our American jobs to other parts of the world."

By introducing this legislation, the Blue New Deal sponsors are working to kill the revenue source responsible for building and maintaining the National Park System, which means they are seeking to reduce recreational access on public land and the estimated $734 billion outdoor recreation industry.

Recent passage of the Great American Outdoors (S. 3422), signed into law in August 2020, further married conservation and energy production by permanently dedicating over $1 billion to land acquisition in western states entirely from private sector offshore oil and gas profits. The legislation funded the Land and Water Conservation Fund (which relies solely on revenues generated from oil and gas production in the Gulf of Mexico) and this action yet again prevented funds from being reinvested into coastal restoration efforts – the same region where the funds originate.

This means Gulf States pay for land acquisition that does not enhance their own everyday life since the measure keeps in place the cap on funds Gulf Coast states can receive due to the Gulf of Mexico Security Act (GOMESA). Under GOMESA, the four states (Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, and Alabama) share 37.5 percent of the royalties generated while the federal government takes 50 percent and the LWCF grabs 12.5 percent.

Because the four Gulf Coast states split the already divided funds, Louisiana gets less than it gives. Graves said previously S. 3422 will cheat Louisiana of its fair share of oil and gas royalties to subsidize vacation destinations and Graves’ amendments to lift the cap on funds Gulf Coast states could receive were denied. Louisiana produces more offshore revenues than the next five-producing states, combined, and we are exporting oil to 12 countries and natural gas to 36 countries.

The Louisiana Legislature has also passed a bipartisan resolution expressing their support for a defeat of the Oceans-Based Climate Solutions Act of 2020 and to protect future opportunities for oil and gas exploration on the Outer Continental Shelf.

Background on Graves effort to gain equal treatment:

  • In July 2020, Graves spoke out against H.R. 1957 – the Great American Outdoors Act before voting no on its’ final passage in the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • In February 2019, Graves spoke on the U.S. House floor in opposition to S. 47 – the Natural Resources Management Act, which authorized the LWCF to add more land than we can manage and did not address the $17 billion in backlogged maintenance. Graves warned his colleagues that this decision would be reckless to our debt, a flawed policy decision, and ignorant of the protection and conservation needs of the coastal areas that provide that funding. Graves has been a staunch defender of GOMESA against multiple attempts to dismantle the program by the Obama and Trump Administrations.
  • Since 2017, Graves has submitted nearly 50 amendments to the bill but committee Democrats voted on party line to exclude the efforts, and examples can be found herehere and here.
  • In July 2017, Graves previously introduced legislation to boost the share of offshore energy revenues for Gulf Coast states, providing a substantial increase in funding for Louisiana’s coastal restoration and flood protection projects. The bipartisan bill would amend GOMESA to bring Gulf offshore energy revenue sharing closer to parity with onshore energy producing states – an effort long pursued by Louisiana’s congressional delegation. The legislation was originally introduced last Congress by Graves and was advanced out the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources in September 2018 after the two markup sessions (click here and here for more info including mention of Graves’ amendments).
  • On April 26, 2018, Graves chaired a U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources hearing titled “Examining the Critical Importance of Offshore Energy Revenue Sharing for Gulf Producing States” where Mary Landrieu, former Louisiana U.S. Senator, and Reggie Dupre, Terrebonne Level and Conservation District Executive Director, were witnesses.
  • That same day, Graves accepted Louisiana’s $66 million “check” for initial GOMESA Phase II Disbursement from then-U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke.
  • In May 2017, Graves also discussed GOMESA with Vice President Pence aboard Air Force Two.