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OCS revenue sharing good for Jefferson County and the Nation
by Jefferson County Judge Jeff R. Branick
Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The 2018 National Association of Counties convention recently adopted a Jefferson County resolution telling Congress to “oppose any future administration budget request to eliminate Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA) revenue sharing with eligible states, counties and parishes.” The resolution is being distributed this week on Capitol Hill as the Congress approaches the finish line in writing next year’s budget.

 

Jefferson County received $662,000 from the U.S. Treasury for our share of the 2017 GOMESA payout. The State of Texas received $40.4 million and seventeen other Gulf of Mexico coastal counties divided just under $9 million. These payments were the first “Phase II” revenue sharing distributions under GOMESA that will continue annually until 2055. The amounts will vary each year based upon offshore oil and gas lease bonuses and production royalties collected by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

When Congress passed GOMESA a dozen years ago they defined appropriate uses for the funds to include “coastal conservation, coastal restoration, hurricane protection, and infrastructure directly affected by coastal wetland losses.” Lawmakers also allowed broad authority to fund recipients to mitigate “damage to fish, wildlife or natural resources” from actions to produce offshore energy and for “implementing federally-approved marine, coastal or comprehensive management plans” and to “mitigate the impact of Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) activities through funding onshore infrastructure projects.”

Two messages are loud and clear from GOMESA. First, the nation benefits from OCS oil and gas development, and second, there are environmental costs borne by Gulf of Mexico energy producing states and their counties and parishes where impacts to coastal environments from offshore drilling are felt. In other words, Congress decided it was smart for the nation and fair to the locals to invest in coastal environmental conservation and infrastructure improvements in places like Jefferson County.

Most county residents know that we depend on our intact marshes and beaches to reduce hurricane storm surge and provide abundant fish and wildlife habitats that support our quality of life, outdoor tourism, commercial fishery and sport fishing and hunting guiding operations. Most in Congress know that our area’s energy production, refining, shipping are vital to powering the nation’s economy and that our ports and salt domes are critical to foreign trade success, national defense and homeland security. Thankfully, President George W. Bush knew this when he signed GOMESA into law in 2006.

In short, GOMESA is a great example of a natural resource development policy enhancing jobs and national security as well as a prudent annual investment in coastal conservation stewardship. Jefferson County is grateful that the National Association of Counties (NACo) comprised of 3,069 counties, parishes and boroughs, agrees that they need to invest in the sustainability of the energy coast along the Gulf of Mexico for their benefit and ours.

The proposed elimination of GOMESA came from staff “below the radar” within the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) under both presidents Obama and Trump. NACo now emphatically disagrees and next year Jefferson County will ask that our resolution become part of NACo’s permanent platform so all future presidential administrations and congresses know that while Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama strongly support OCS drilling, we also pay a coastal resiliency price in terms of wear and tear on our coastal environments, highways, ports, and recreational amenities.

GOMESA and now NACo affirm that the nation has a stake in our long term success and coastal resiliency.





Remembering Jim Guidry Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership


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