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Graves Statement on Senate Legislation that Cheats Louisiana of its Fair Share of Oil and Gas Royalties to Subsidize Vacation Destinations

June 18, 2020
Press Release
Legislation heads back to U.S. House of Representatives, Graves Plans to Amend

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Congressman Garret Graves (South Louisiana) released the following statement after the U.S. Senate passed S. 3422, the Great American Outdoors Act, which now heads to the U.S. House for a vote.

“The fact that the Senate is prioritizing an enviro-bailout right now – amidst record unemployment, a pandemic and national civil unrest – is fascinating. This activist-led, thinly veiled money laundering scheme is textbook doublespeak that will actually accelerate the destruction of four million acres of America’s Mississippi River Delta coastal wetlands. These bill advocates better be thinking up the excuses they will give to the families of hurricane victims in Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and Louisiana,” Graves said. “Let’s call the bill what it is - theft and awful policy. The bill takes money that we generate from offshore energy in Louisiana and gives it to California and other western states. The irony here is rich. First, many of these states that will be the largest beneficiaries of our money oppose the very energy production they will profit from — hypocrisy. Second, the bill is supposed to be addressing “conservation” yet it fails one of the nation’s most important conservation crisis — the loss of coastal Louisiana, our communities and ecosystem. Third, the bill funds additional property acquisition when the government has a backlog of over $10 billion in maintenance needs on existing properties. This bill is a failure and it should not have passed the Senate. We will be working with Cong. Richmond, Scalise, Abraham, Higgins, and Johnson to fix this injustice.”

The original bill, H.R. 1957 – the Taxpayer First Act of 2019, was passed by the U.S. House and the U.S. Senate attached S. 3422 to it. Under legislative procedure, a bill can become a legislative vehicle for another piece of legislation. Now, the U.S. House will vote on S. 3422, and Graves hopes to have the opportunity to offer new amendments.

S. 3422 funds the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) entirely from private sector offshore oil and gas profits. Meaning, the 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. With Louisiana’s cap at $176 million per year, the state gets less than it gives.

To read more about S. 3422, click here.

To read more about H.R. 1957, click here.

Background on Graves Involvement:

floor speech

The video above is a compilation of various clips of Graves speaking on LWCF, oil and gas royalties, and the legislative process. Original videos and more information is below:

  • 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 here, here 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.