Governor Kay Ivey recently announced nearly $28 million in GOMESA (Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006) funding for 16 projects in the coastal Alabama region. These projects focus on recreational access to our waterways, research projects and land acquisitions. GOMESA funding provides for the four Gulf oil producing states to share 37.5% of the revenues from Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) oil and gas leases issued since December 2006. The Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources administers the funds with the approval of the Governor.
A group of Members in both Houses of Congress, backed by a large coalition of national, state and local groups, are strongly advocating for Congress to commit a significant portion of federal OCS oil and gas revenues for outdoor recreation and deferred maintenance in national parks. Their legislation is titled the Great American Outdoors Act (S.3422) (GAOA).
Senate Majority Mitch McConnell has called for a vote on the Great American Outdoors Act (S.3422) on the Senate floor this week. The bill dedicates and makes mandatory $18.5 billion of OCS revenue over 10 years to fully fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund and substantially fund the deferred maintenance in our national parks. If enacted, this legislation would permanently fund the Land and Water Conservation Fund with mineral revenues generated off the coast of Gulf Producing States. If this bill were to pass the Senate, it will almost certainly pass the House without changes and be signed into law, leaving GOMESA out.
Why we think this bad for Coastal Alabama
- While these are indeed worthy causes, the concern here is that this $18.5 billion comes out of revenues generated in the Gulf of Mexico without allocating a fair share to the state’s that help produce these revenues. This Legislation would allocate an average of $1.85 billion a year of mostly OCS revenues for 10 years to outdoor recreation and national parks maintenance around the nation– and as you know GOMESA funds are capped at only $375 million a year. We think that this arbitrary GOMESA cap should be eliminated to provide a fair share for our coastal host states.
- The State of Alabama received $24.47 million through GOMESA , Baldwin County received $2.75 million, and Mobile County received $3.3 million.
What is next?
- Bill Cassidy (R-La.) announced that he would seek adoption of an amendment to the “Great American Outdoors Act” — on which the Senate will take a procedural vote to kick off full debate — that would increase the amount of offshore oil and gas revenue that Gulf Coast states can receive.
- Cassidy’s amendment also would remove the cap on money these states can collect from energy production on the outer continental shelf and would put that money toward “coastal resiliency and restoration efforts.”
We do not oppose the investment of funding for our national parks, but if new allocations of federal OCS revenues for outdoor recreation and national parks are included in forthcoming bills or economic stimulus legislation, coastal communities cannot be left out.