Landrieu, Murkowski widen revenue-sharing proposal in bid for support

“It could be wind, it could be tidal, it could be wave energy, anything the coastal states step up and produce where there are impacts to their shores, their coastal communities and to their states, they would be basically considered a partner in that production and treated as a partner, and not as a colony,” Landrieu added.

The lawmakers hope the proposal could help build support in committee and the floor by enticing coastal states senators to support revenue-sharing even if oil-and-gas development isn’t in the cards in their regions. Murkowski – the top Republican on the energy committee – called the plan an “important evolution” of the revenue-sharing push.

Gulf of Mexico states won oil-and-gas revenue-sharing in a 2006 law, but the bulk of it does not begin until 2016. Landrieu also wants that sped up.

Alaska’s senators are pushing to receive a cut of offshore leasing and royalty money from federal waters – which now goes exclusively to the Treasury – at a time when Shell Oil and other companies are proposing development off their coast.

The offshore renewable energy industry is in its relative infancy in the U.S., but companies are increasingly eyeing wind projects, and wave-power projects as well.

Landrieu and Murkowski have pitched the plan to colleagues. Murkowski noted, for instance, that she has lobbied Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) on the concept.  “If Maine were to have offshore opportunities for wind, then this level of revenue-sharing would be available for them. She said ‘oh, that’s interesting,'” Murkowski said Thursday.

Collins is not in the energy committee. But the panel does include several lawmakers from coastal states where renewable energy companies are eyeing offshore wind or ocean energy projects.

However, committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) is a longtime opponent of offshore revenue-sharing (click here for more on his case against the idea).

Murkowski and Bingaman recently announced an agreement on offshore drilling safety oversight provisions. But a Murkowski spokesman has said her vote for the bill is not guaranteed, suggesting it depends in what happens when the bill is marked up.

Murkowski, in a prepared statement Thursday, said revenue-sharing will be a key issue for her at the markup.

“When considering amendments to the offshore oversight legislation, we should keep in mind that it is the states that provide the docks, roads, refineries and other infrastructure that make energy production off their coastlines possible. I believe it is time that we provide coastal states with a fair share of the revenue from oil and gas produced off their shores,” she said.