Legislation to Improve Coastal Protection and Resiliency Heard in Committee

Highlights

  • In June, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Member Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA) introduced the Reinvesting in Shoreline Economics and Ecosystems (RISEE) Act (S. 2130).
  • This bipartisan bill would amend the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA) and create a similar dedicated funding stream from future offshore wind development for the purposes of coastal protection and resiliency.
  • S. 2130 was heard in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee on October 19.

Why it matters: This bill will be a critical step forward to mitigating the impacts climate change, man-made infrastructure, and natural disasters have 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 October 19, the Reinvesting in Shoreline Economics and Ecosystems (RISEE) Act (S. 2130) was heard in a subcommittee of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.  This bipartisan bill, led by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and CSC Member Senator Bill Cassidy, will provide for increased funding for coastal protection and resiliency. The Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation (CSF) joined several recreational fishing groups in a letter of support for the bill.

Historically, seasonal floods in the Mississippi River would deposit critical sediment into the delta floodplain on the Louisiana coast, naturally rebuilding wetlands in the region. However, the construction of levees that line the Mississippi River, which are vital to flood protection and human safety, have prevented sediments from dispersion into the floodplain and exacerbated the problem of coastal erosion and wetland loss along the Gulf Coast. Today, Louisiana loses 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.

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.

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