Last week, the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) and more than 25 partners from the sporting-conservation community sent a letter to Congressional Leaders House Speaker Pelosi, Senate Majority Leader McConnell, House Minority Leader McCarthy and Senate Minority Leader Schumer, in support of the Conservation of America’s Shoreline Terrain and Aquatic Life Act (COASTAL Act) and the Opening Federal Financial Sharing to Heighten Opportunities for Renewable Energy Act of 2020 Act (OFFSHORE Act).
While levees that line the Mississippi River are vital to flood protection and human safety, these water diversion structures are exacerbating the problem of coastal erosion and wetland loss along the Gulf Coast. Historically, seasonal floods in the Mississippi River would deposit critical sediment into the delta plain, naturally rebuilding wetlands in the region. Prior to the mass construction of the levee system, Louisiana was growing at roughly 3/4 of a square mile annually. However, when levee construction began, Louisiana started losing an average of 16 square miles a year, or the equivalent of a football field every hour. Without a bold proactive solution such as the COASTAL Act, the Louisiana Department of Natural Resources estimates that 640,000 acres, approximately the size of Rhode Island, will be under water by the year 2050.
The COASTAL Act (S. 2418), introduced by Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus Members Senators Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy, seeks to provide parity between onshore and offshore energy development on federal lands and waters. Currently, onshore energy producing states receive 50% of the federal royalties generated by the energy development in their respective states while energy-producing states in the Gulf of Mexico only receive 37.5%. The COASTAL Act would establish parity for Gulf energy-producing states by removing the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA) revenue sharing cap to provide better revenue sharing equity for Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas to mitigate for offshore energy development and address coastal erosion and wetland loss.
Similarly, the OFFSHORE Act (S. 3485), introduced by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, would diversify federal conservation funding by ensuring a portion of the royalties collected from offshore wind projects is directed to the states where the energy is produced, as well as the adjacent states for coastal resiliency, wetland restoration, hurricane protection, and infrastructure improvements to conserve fish, wildlife, and their associated habitats.
Both of these pieces of legislation have received a hearing in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee where they await further action.
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