Today, Congressman Steven M. Palazzo (MS-04) announced the introduction of H.R. 2131, the Gulf Conservation and Recreation Funding Act, which was authored by Representative Jerry Carl (AL-01) and has seven original cosponsors, including Congressman Palazzo and Republican Whip Steve Scalise (LA-01). This bill would require the Department of Interior to pay GOMESA states the revenues they are missing out on due to leases cancelled by President Biden’s January 26th Executive Order.
On January 26, 2021, President Biden signed Executive Order 14008 establishing an indefinite moratorium on new oil and gas leases in federal waters, “pending completion of a comprehensive review and reconsideration of Federal oil and gas permitting and leasing practices.” As long as President Biden’s moratorium remains in place, the Department of Interior would have to pay Gulf states each fiscal year any difference between what they collected in normal GOMESA revenues that fiscal year and the average revenues collected between fiscal years 2018, 2019, and 2020.
GOMESA funds supported upwards of $10 million in recreation and conservation projects last year in south Mississippi, and over $41 million throughout the state of Mississippi. Each year, local county commissioners and municipal governments plan projects based on forecasted GOMESA funds. However, if lease sales continue to be cancelled indefinitely, our coastal communities and the four Gulf producing states will be denied a vital source of funding for years to come.
Congressman Palazzo also remains committed to raising Mississippi’s share of qualified revenues and eliminating the cap on GOMESA revenue, which is currently limited to $500 million a year collectively.
“In addition to aiding America’s energy independence, the revenues generated from the oil and gas leases throughout the Gulf of Mexico play an extremely important role in protecting our Mississippi coastline. The President’s Executive Order has hindered GOMESA revenues coming into our Gulf Coast states going forward. This is counterproductive to coastal conservation and restoration projects, hurricane protection programs, and activities to implement marine, coastal, or conservation management plans which align with President Biden’s pro-environmental agenda,” said Rep. Palazzo.
“The State of Mississippi, and especially our Mississippi Gulf Coast, have benefited greatly from GOMESA funds,” said Mississippi Department of Marine Resources Executive Director Joe Spraggins. “These funds, which support projects that include coastal protection, mitigation of damage to natural resources, conservation management and onshore infrastructure, are critical for protecting Mississippi’s natural resources. As stewards of our state’s invaluable resources, we want to continue improving natural resources through GOMESA.”
“Canceling the offshore oil and gas lease sale is harmful not only to Louisiana, but to the United States as a whole. As a country, we are still dependent on fossil fuels. If we aren’t producing American oil and natural gas, we are going to have to rely on foreign countries for our energy needs, which will only weaken our economy and the environment. To add insult to injury, canceling these lease sales has already deprived Louisiana and other Gulf states millions of dollars in revenue sharing for conservation projects and other critical priorities. In Louisiana, we rely on these funds, paid by private companies, for critical coastal restoration and hurricane protection efforts. I call on President Biden to immediately reinstate the offshore lease sales so that we can protect American jobs, ensure affordable energy for families and small businesses and protect critical funding for our states and local communities,” said Republican Whip Steve Scalise.
“President Biden’s moratorium on new oil and gas leases in federal waters is particularly devastating to south Alabama and the Gulf Coast region. These actions have already resulted in the cancellation of a scheduled lease sale under the GOMESA program, which provides critical revenue to our state and our region. President Biden has declared war on the oil and gas industry, which is destroying jobs and harming Alabama’s economy. This is wrong, and I’m fighting to hold the Biden Administration accountable,” said Rep. Carl.
Original cosponsors include: Palazzo, Republican Whip Steve Scalise (LA-01), Reps. Graves (LA-06), Guest (MS-03), Kelly (MS-01), Nehls (TX-22), and Weber (TX-14).