Industry Asks Trump Not To Take Restoration Money

This story was reported for WWNO -- New Orleans Public Radio

Revenues from oil and gas leases in federal waters make up about 20% of the state's coastal restoration budget. (BEARDO62/FLICKR: CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Louisiana oil and gas industry in Louisiana is asking President Trump not to take coastal restoration money away from the state.

Oil and gas companies have to pay for leases if they want to drill in the Gulf of Mexico. The federal government makes money from those leases. GOMESA is a law that requires the government share some of that money with the states on the gulf coast -- including Louisiana.

Louisiana was planning to use that money for coastal restoration, and it makes up about 20% of the state’s restoration money for next year. But the Trump administration’s budget -- released a couple weeks ago -- wants to put an end to the program.

Governor Edwards and environmental organizations immediately criticized the move, saying the money was critical for coastal restoration. Now, the state’s oil and gas industry is joining the chorus.

Don Briggs is President of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association (LOGA), which represents oil and gas companies in the state. He wrote a letter to President Trump, asking him to support GOMESA, and says it’s “common sense” to keep sharing the revenue. He says GOMESA money is important for industry because restoration helps protect infrastructure, like ports.

“Especially,” he says, “Now that we're starting to export oil and we're exporting liquefied natural gas.”

It’s congress that ultimately decides what does and doesn’t get funded. Presidential budgets are essentially wishlists for what the administration would like congress to do. But Briggs still wants Trump to see it his way -- and he thinks he will.

“I mean this is a business decision,” he says, “I’ll be very surprised if he doesn’t.”