Senator Landrieu has been a tireless advocate in the fight to protect Louisiana's coastal communities throughout her career. She has promoted an approach that gives balanced consideration to the diverse and complex array of activities that occur along coastal Louisiana, including, but not limited to hurricane protection; wetland restoration; navigation; commercial and recreational fisheries; cultural and historic preservation; and future land use planning.
The RESTORE the Gulf Coast Act
On June 29, 2012, in a historic victory for the Gulf Coast, Congress passed the RESTORE the Gulf Coast Act as part of a two-year transportation bill. Sen. Landrieu was the lead sponsor of the RESTORE Act, which is a bipartisan, regional approach in response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010. To address the immense economic and environmental damage to America's working coast, this legislation directs 80 percent of the Clean Water Act penalties to the Gulf Coast. This will represent the largest single investment in environmental restoration in our nation's history.
Learn more about the RESTORE Act.
Importance of the Gulf Coast and History
Louisiana's coastal wetlands are a vital part of the state's economy and ecosystem. The same wetlands that nourish Louisiana's teeming fish and wildlife are also home to the nation's most valuable commercial infrastructure. Approximately one-third of the nation's domestically-produced oil and gas (and approximately 20 percent of our imported oil) is transported, processed, and refined along Louisiana's coast - making Louisiana America's Energy Coast. The region is also the nation's central transportation hub, accommodating 20 percent of the nation's waterborne commerce. And of course, Louisiana is truly a Sportsman's Paradise. Approximately 16 percent of the nation's fisheries harvest comes from Louisiana's coast, and this bountiful fishery is dependent on Louisiana's wetlands for breeding, spawning, feeding and nursery grounds.
Unfortunately, this national commercial and ecological treasure is facing a dire threat today. Since the early 1900's, Louisiana has lost more than 2,000 square miles of coastal wetlands and is currently losing 25 to 35 square miles per year, roughly equivalent to a football field each hour. Some experts predict the loss of another 500 square miles by 2050. This constitutes one of America's most pronounced ecological disasters, and it poses a threat not only to Louisiana's coastal communities, but to the nation's economic and energy security.
Energy Security and Revenue Sharing
Since 1927, states have received 50 percent of the tax revenues generated from onshore oil and gas production on federal lands. But, until recently, coastal states did not receive similar treatment for their role in hosting offshore energy production. That finally changed in 2006 when Sen. Landrieu worked with then-Energy Committee Chairman Pete Domenici, R-N.M., to pass the Domenici-Landrieu Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA).
For the first time, this law secured a fair share of offshore oil and gas revenues for Louisiana. This independent revenue stream is expected to provide Louisiana billions of additional dollars over the next decades for coastal restoration and hurricane protection projects. Phase one of GOMESA brought more than $6 million into Louisiana for 2009 alone. Phase two will bring in ever increasing amounts beginning in 2017. These funds will help to reduce coastal erosion, protect our coastal communities and commercial infrastructure, and ensure that America's Energy Coast remains a vibrant and beautiful place for future generations.
Coastal Impact Assistance
In 2005, Sen. Landrieu helped create the Coastal Impact Assistance Program, which redirected $1 billion in offshore oil and gas revenues to coastal, energy-producing states to mitigate the environmental impacts of offshore energy production. Those funds have helped to rebuild barrier islands, bolster coastal infrastructure, and restore our precious wetlands.
Through her seat on the Appropriations Committee, Sen. Landrieu has delivered millions of dollars for coastal restoration and protection, and she will continue to fight for necessary federal dollars to rebuild and protect Louisiana's coast. Click here to read more about the Senator's funding successes in the FY 2012 federal spending bill.
In February 2012, Senator Landrieu announced that the Army Corps of Engineers will provide $22.1 million in additional funding for major waterways in Louisiana. The decision came after Sen. Landrieu and the Louisiana congressional delegation urged the Corps to provide the necessary investments in underfunded waterway projects in Louisiana. An additional $13.2 million in funding will be shared by states along the Mississippi River, including Louisiana, Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee. The additional funding comes from money that was appropriated above the President's budget request in last year's omnibus appropriations bill and left at the Corps' discretion.
That same month, Senator Landrieu announced that Army Corps of Engineers will provide $3.6 million in additional federal funding for dredging on the Red River Waterway. The decision comes after Sen. Landrieu and the Louisiana congressional delegation urged the Corps to provide the necessary investments in the waterway. The additional funding comes from money provided in the FY 2012 Disaster Relief Appropriations Act.