Alabama Republican Congressman Jerry Carl on Tuesday announced that he has introduced the Gulf Conservation and Recreation Funding Act, which would require the Department of Interior to pay GOMESA states the revenues they are missing out on due to leases canceled by President Joe Biden’s Jan. 26 Executive Order.
The bill has seven original cosponsors, including Republican Whip Steve Scalise from Louisiana.
The legislation was prompted by Biden’s Jan. 26 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.”
Under this legislation, as long as 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.
Carl’s office explained that GOMESA funds supported upwards of $26 million in recreation and conservation projects last year in South Alabama, including boat ramps, shoreline restorations, bike trails and park enhancements. Each year, local county commissioners and municipal governments plan projects based on forecasted GOMESA funds. However, if lease sales continue to be cancelled indefinitely, coastal communities in the four Gulf producing states will be denied a vital source of funding for years to come.
Carl said that he also remains committed to raising Alabama’s share of qualified revenues and eliminating the cap on GOMESA revenue, which is currently limited to $500 million a year collectively.
“President Biden’s moratorium on new oil and gas leases in federal waters is particularly devastating to south Alabama and the Gulf Coast region,” Carl said in a statement. “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.”
“Canceling the offshore oil and gas lease sale is harmful not only to Louisiana, but to the United States as a whole,” Scalise said. “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.”
Rep. Trent Kelly, R-Mississippi, another cosponsor, said: “We are happy to support our State as well as the other Gulf states, in ensuring that we receive lost GOMESA revenue due to the cancelled leases from the administration’s Executive Order.”
“The new administration cares about the environment so much that he kiboshed a primary source of funding for critical environmental restoration in Louisiana and along the Gulf Coast,” said Rep. Garrett Graves, R-Louisiana. “We’re giving math a shot with this bill because logic clearly doesn’t resonate with them.”
“President Biden has reduced access to our natural resources and placed a burden on Gulf states. His administration must accept responsibility for the impact his misguided executive orders have on states, so I’m proud to cosponsor this legislation to ensure Gulf states are not harmed by this administration’s heavy-handed approach,” said Rep. Michael Guest, R-Mississippi.
“The oil and gas industry is vital to Texas’ economy,” said Congressman Troy Nehls, R-Texas. “President Biden’s moratorium jeopardizes jobs and the livelihoods of millions of Texans, in the middle of a pandemic. It’s reckless policy that prioritizes politics over people and it needs to end.”
“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,” said Rep. Steve Palazzo, R-Mississippi. “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.”
“President Biden’s offshore drilling moratorium threatens to cut off a significant source of livelihood for the people of the 14th Congressional District of Texas,” said Rep. Randy Weber, R-Texas. “It will halt funding for many essential coastal resiliency and ecological restoration projects along the Texas Gulf Coast. This executive order is bad policy and bad science and should be reversed, but for as long as it stands, the federal government should reimburse the gulf states and our local communities for the critical resiliency and coastal restoration funding that they are being denied.”
“The GOMESA funding is very important to Coastal Alabama. These funds have been used to provide new recreational access to our waterways, improve water quality through sewer system improvements and have protected sensitive habitats through land acquisitions,” said Chris Blankenship, commissioner of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.
Michael Zehr is the federal affairs advisor for the Consumer Energy Alliance.
“We really appreciate the Congressman’s leadership on this important issue. Efforts to restrict responsible development hurt small businesses and families throughout the economy – not just direct energy workers,” Zehr said. “These decisions also cause financial harm to state budgets and conservation programs. As DOI considers how to move forward, it should do so in a manner that helps workers, families, states and the environment. Compensating states for any losses as a result of this pause is a fair and responsible request. Environmentally sound offshore energy development and regular lease sales have been and must continue to be essential to meeting our economic and environmental needs.”
Biden has said action is needed to reduce carbon emissions to fight climate change.
Carl represents Alabama’s 1st Congressional District. Carl was previously a Mobile County Commissioner and small businessman.