Sen. Wyden sees 'third path' on offshore drilling royalties

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Wyden's optimism is good news for Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), who plans to forge ahead with a royalties bill next Congress, after her most recent one floundered in 2011.

“The Senator is encouraged that the Energy Committee will have a chairman that understands why revenue sharing is critical for the country’s energy security and coastal restoration efforts in the Gulf. She looks forward to working with him to make full and fair revenue sharing from all federal lands a reality for Louisiana and the entire country,” Landrieu spokesman Matthew Lehner said in a Thursday statement to The Hill.

Landrieu’s staff has said Wyden appeared amenable to working on the royalties issue when it was up for committee vote. But retiring Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) held up the bill, arguing those revenues should go directly to the federal government.

Landrieu’s bill would have lifted a $500 million cap on offshore drilling royalties given to Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. It also would have permitted the states to begin collecting those payments in 2015, rather than 2017.

The bill also established a revenue-sharing mechanism for federal offshore wind projects, with an eye toward winning support from Pacific Northwest committee members like Wyden and Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.).