Why it matters: This bill represents a critical step in efforts to mitigate the impacts of climate change, man-made infrastructure, and natural disasters on our nation’s coastal communities. 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. Unfortunately, this issue is not just limited to Louisiana, but impacts all coastal communities. The RISEE Act would both amend the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA) and create a new dedicated stream of funding from future offshore wind development for coastal protection and resiliency.
On June 17, the bipartisan Reinvesting in Shoreline Economics and Ecosystems (RISEE) Act was introduced by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Member Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) to provide for increased funding for coastal protection and resiliency.
In the case of Louisiana, levees that line the Mississippi River are vital for flood protection and human safety, however 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.
To combat this problem, the RISEE Act will eliminate the existing state revenue sharing cap and increase the percentage cap for revenue sharing from 37.5% to 50% of offshore energy revenue. By making this change, the RISEE Act will provide much needed financial resources to Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas to mitigate for offshore energy development and address coastal erosion and wetland loss that if left unchecked, will lead to decreased opportunity for hunters and anglers.
Additionally, the RISEE Act 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.
The RISEE Act awaits consideration by the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?