By Jaclyn Brandt
From Fierce Energy
Two United States Senators from Georgia have joined a bipartisan group of lawmakers who are asking for Georgia and other coastal states to share in the profits from developed offshore energy.
Senators Johnny Isakson and David Perdue of Georgia helped draft the letter to Chairman Murkowski and Ranking Member Cantwell, both of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
The Proposed 2017-2022 Five Year Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) Leasing Program was released by the Department of the Interior (DOI) in January, and asked for 14 potential lease sales in eight areas, including one in a portion of the Mid- and South-Atlantic. In the letter by the group, they explained, “We strongly believe that offshore energy and revenue sharing for coastal states go hand-in-hand and that any legislation considered by the Committee should reflect that view.”
“Offshore energy exploration can be an opportunity to diversify the economy and create jobs in the Mid- and South-Atlantic region, as well as a means to lessen our national reliance on foreign sources of energy,” the senators wrote. “Our states want the opportunity to create new jobs, generate new revenue and make the United States more energy secure.”
The senators explained that since the Gulf Coast states receives a portion of revenue from offshore energy in that area, the Mid- and South-Atlantic states should receive a portion of profits from offshore energy in their area.
“The offshore industry has coexisted with the military and commercial industries like fishing and tourism in other areas for many years, and we believe that oil and gas development can take place on the Outer Continental Shelf alongside our shared efforts to protect our waters and shoreline,” the letter explained. “In the Mid- and South-Atlantic as in the Gulf of Mexico, we all agree on the principle that coastal states deserve a portion of the revenue from energy production.”
According to DOI Secretary Sally Jewell, the OCS Land Act requires the department to prepare a program over five years, including potential oil and gas lease sales, and any other factors “determined to best meet national energy needs” while also considering any economic, environmental, and social factors.
Senators from North Carolina, Virginia, and South Carolina also signed the letter.