U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.) Tuesday pressed the Biden administration to support bipartisan legislation that would give Gulf Coast states, including Mississippi, a greater share of revenues generated from offshore energy production.
Hyde-Smith serves on the Senate Energy Committee’s Public Lands, Forests, & Mining Subcommittee, which conducted a legislative hearing on the Reinvesting in Shoreline Economies & Ecosystems (RISEE) Act (S.2130) and other legislation.
“Because the RISEE Act has support across the political spectrum, I hope the Biden administration will more fully embrace this legislation,” Hyde-Smith said following the hearing.
“I am concerned that the tepid testimony at this hearing is linked to the administration’s hostile approach to fossil fuels,” she continued. “The fact is the American people are going to need access to affordable oil and gas for the foreseeable future and our coasts will continue to need more investment in resilience projects. They go hand-in-hand, which the RISEE Act addresses.”
Among other things, the RISEE Act would eliminate the state revenue sharing cap enacted with the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA), which limits annual royalty benefits for Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, and Texas at $375 million through 2055 for coastal infrastructure and resiliency projects. The bill would also establish 50 percent revenue sharing parity between inland and offshore energy production on federal holdings.
“Revenues from offshore energy production are the main source of sustainable dollars for Gulf Coast states to implement highly important projects like coastal conservation, restoration, and hurricane protection. States with inland oil and gas production are rightly entitled to 50 percent of the associated federal revenues – revenues derived from resources which belong to the entire nation, not any one state. Mr. Feldgus, would you agree that Gulf Coast states like Mississippi and Louisiana should receive the same benefits from energy produced on federal holding within their boundaries as the benefits received by energy-producing onshore and landlocked states?” Hyde-Smith asked Steve Feldgus, Interior Department Deputy Assistant Secretary for Lands and Minerals Management.
“I would say that any energy produced within the boundaries of the state of Mississippi is shared with the state of Mississippi in the same manner as other states,” Feldgus responded.
In written testimony, Feldgus testified about the administration’s willingness to work with Congress on the RISEE Act, but expressed concerns about the revenue sharing structure for offshore oil, gas, and wind energy sources. He said the proposed GOMESA amendments “would result in a projected additional $9.4 billion going to those four states over the next ten years, a number that could increase significantly in subsequent decades.”
“Broadly, the Department supports funding and programs for coastal resilience activities and conservation. However, the Department also acknowledges the need to further evaluate the implication of diverting that amount of revenue and creating further dependence on funding from energy development in order to accomplish conservation and resilience goals, given the variability of such funding on global energy prices and the level of industry activity,” Feldgus said.
Hyde-Smith and Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) are original cosponsors of the RISEE Act, which also seeks to implement a state revenue sharing formula for offshore wind projects. The RISEE Act would amend current law, which now requires 100 percent of all revenues generated from offshore wind leases and production beyond state waters be deposited in the U.S. Treasury.