Trump Budget Nixes Funding For Coast

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

The Louisiana Coastal Master Plan cobbles funding from several sources including GOMESA, which accounts for just under twenty percent of next year's restoration revenue. (LISTENING COAST)

The Trump administration has released a more detailed budget proposal for the next fiscal year, which would mean less money for coastal restoration in Louisiana.

One of the biggest sources is something called the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA).

When oil and gas companies want to drill in the Gulf of Mexico, they have to get apply for a lease and pay for it. The federal government makes money from those leases. GOMESA requires the government share some of that money with the states on the gulf coast -- including Louisiana.

The Trump administration wants to stop sharing that money with gulf states. The state was set to get $140 million for Fiscal Year 2018 -- about 20 percent of next year’s coastal restoration money.

Brian Moore is Vice President for Gulf of Mexico Policy at the National Audubon Society. He says that’s a big deal for the Louisiana coast.

“Even though there's tremendous resources out there,” says Moore, “It's not enough to fund the amazing needs that Louisiana has to protect its coastline.”

But the money is still up in the air.

Presidential budgets are basically just guidelines -- wish lists for what the administration would like congress to do. It’s congress that ultimately decides what does and doesn’t get funded.

Moore says President Obama wanted to cut GOMESA a few years ago, but congress ultimately disregarded that proposal.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards criticized the proposed elimination of GOMESA funding.

In a statement he said sharing federal revenue from oil and gas leases is "critical to ensure Louisiana's coast remains fully operational, protects vital national infrastructure and provides the necessary barriers to protect our working coast and citizens," and taking it away would "set us back decades."