By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
Wednesday, July 8, during debate on the Department of Interior Appropriations bill, the House of Representatives adopted an amendment offered by Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL) to ensure that off-shore oil revenue remains with Alabama and the other Gulf States.
US Representative Byrne said on the floor of the US House of Representatives, “My straightforward amendment would prohibit any effort to redirect funds allocated under the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, also referred to as “GOMESA.” “GOMESA was passed in 2006 and created a revenue-sharing agreement for off shore oil revenue between the federal government and four states in the Gulf of Mexico – Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.
Rep. Byrne said, “Under GOMESA, 37.5 percent of the revenues generated from selected oil and gas lease sales in the Outer Continental Shelf of the Gulf of Mexico is returned to the Gulf States. There is a reason the law was structured this way. These Gulf States not only provide the lion’s share of the infrastructure and workforce for the industry in the Gulf of Mexico, but they also have inherent environmental and economic risks.”
Rep. Byrne continued, “Unfortunately, in his budget proposal this year, President Obama has recommended that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, under the Department of the Interior, redirect the distribution of expanded revenue payments expected to start in 2018 for Gulf of Mexico oil and gas leases away from the Gulf Coast and instead be spent all around the country. Not only does this proposal directly contradict the current federal statute, it vastly undermines the purpose of the law – to keep revenues from these lease sales in the states that supply the workforce and have the inherent risk of a potential environmental disaster.”
Congressman Byrne said, “My amendment today is simple; to protect the clearly defined statute and prevent the President from using these revenue sharing agreements as a slush fund for politically-driven environmental projects across the country. Regardless of whether you are from a Gulf Coast state or not, I would urge my colleagues to vote in favor of this important amendment to protect the rule of law and support our coastal communities.”
Congressman Byrne’s amendment was adopted on a voice vote. It would prohibit any effort to redirect the funds away from the Gulf Coast.
In 2006, Congress passed the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA), which created a revenue-sharing agreement for off-shore oil revenue between the federal government and Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. The budget proposal sent to Congress by President Barack H Obama’s (D) Office of Management and the Budget however had proposed that the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management redirect the distribution of expanded revenue payments expected to start in 2018 away from the Gulf Coast and instead spend that money nationwide.
While states with offshore oil facilities nearby do benefit from the jobs and the resulting economic impact; there is a potential downside as the Gulf States saw dramatically in the BP Deepwater Horizons accident that killed 11 people as well as numerous birds, fish, and other aquatic wildlife while severely impacting local fishing and tourism industries.
Congressman Bradley Byrne represents Alabama’s First Congressional District.