Louisiana’s coast is eroding at a rate of up to 20 meters per year. Our coast’s only source of reliable funding comes from offshore oil and gas development, largely through the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA) revenue sharing program in lump sum payments from offshore federal lease sales, and a share of production royalties in federal waters.
Lease sales have generated between $160 million and $407 million over the past five years, with the Gulf States receiving as much as $353 million in offshore revenues in one year alone. In Louisiana, these funds directly support the restoration of our barrier islands and hurricane protection for our communities. In all, Louisiana’s coastal program has mobilized 152 million cubic yards of fill material to the benefit of 315 miles of levee, 60 miles of barrier islands and berms, and over 46,000 acres of new land.
In recent years, especially in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions suffocating demand for energy, lease sale revenue has been declining. This year, Gulf States received nearly $100 million less in offshore revenue compared to 2019. And, The Administration canceled the lease sale that would have occurred this past March, causing Louisiana to lose millions in revenue. Without another lease sale in sight, the state stands to lose much more revenue it has counted on from year to year.
You might be wondering why this matters.
Currently, there is little oversight for industrial pogie fishing. That means there are no catch limits, no buffer zones, and no consequences. Without these limits or buffer zones in place, Louisiana stands to lose more land along our coastline from pogie fishing.
Without a buffer, pogie fishing, with massive seine nets and large boats can occur all the way up to the beach of these barrier islands—churning up dirt and sediment that is so precious in coastal Louisiana.
As the COVID-19 pandemic has affected energy demand and there is currently a hold on offshore oil and gas leasing by the Administration, this funding becomes even more critical. So recent restorations like Whiskey Island, which used over $120 million in funding could be harder to get in the future.
As our coastal land loss continues to accelerate and its revenue for rebuild remains uncertain, we must do all we can to protect the assets we have already built–we need a buffer zone for pogie fishing to protect the multi-million dollar federal and state investments that support our coastal resilience. Like you—we support combatting our coastal land loss and protecting every dime of taxpayer investment that goes into it—we need to buffer these assets.