Friday, May 28, 2010

Louisiana needs its share of offshore oil revenue now, Mr. President: An editorial

By Editorial page staff, The Times-Picayune

Louisiana fought for decades to convince Congress that our state should get a share of the oil and gas wealth being mined off our shores. We're still waiting.

coast-oil-spill.JPGWe're being asked to hold our collective breath till 2017. That's when the revenue-sharing measure that was finally adopted in 2006 takes full effect.

Today President Obama has the chance to personally witness how millions of gallons of crude pouring from BP's sundered pipes are befouling the Gulf of Mexico and our fragile estuaries.

The nation benefits from the oil extracted by BP and others off our coast. But we are the state that bears the brunt of the oil industry's collateral damage. Thanks in large measure to the industry's crisscrossing pipeline canals, we're losing a football field of wetlands every 30 minutes and are more vulnerable than ever to hurricanes.

Twice in the past five years, Louisiana has been knocked to its knees by disasters rooted in the quest for oil.

Our bill has come due.

We can't wait till 2017 for the resources we need to save our imperiled coast. We and other oil-producing coastal states must start getting the 37.5 percent share of oil and gas royalties from new drilling in the Gulf now. Not seven years in the future. Not when it's too late and there's nothing left to save.

Sen. Mary Landrieu has introduced a bill that would speed up the timetable. It would cost the federal treasury $3 billion a year. It's the right and fair thing to do. The decision lies with Congress. President Obama should be our ally-in-chief in the battle to save Louisiana's coast. His administration should work tirelessly on behalf of this legislation. So far, he's been silent.

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