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Greens push Obama on coastal funding plans in 2017 budget

Greens push Obama on coastal funding plans in 2017 budget
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A host of green groups and conservation organizations are asking President Obama to back away from his plan to delay federal revenue sharing for coastline conservation work in his 2017 budget. 

In the budget plan Obama released last month, the White House proposed delaying federal oil revenue payments to Gulf Coast states originally envisioned under a law Congress passed in 2006. 

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That legislation would give 37.5 percent of federal oil revenue from Gulf Coast drilling operations to Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. 

The funding is seen as especially important for coastal and wetland restoration: Louisiana voters amended their state's constitution to direct all the funding the state receives under the law toward restoration work. 

Obama’s budget proposes holding on to that money for federal purposes instead. In a Tuesday letter, though, more than 330 groups asked Obama not to push that agenda with lawmakers this year.

“You have demonstrated a long-standing commitment to Louisiana’s ongoing recovery and its importance to the nation,” the Restore the Mississippi River Delta Coalition wrote in its letter.

“We respectfully request that you reconsider that approach as you work with us and our communities to build the kind of long term resilience we can achieve.” 

Gulf Coast lawmakers have opposed Obama’s plan to limit the budget payments to them. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) told Interior Secretary Sally JewellSarah (Sally) Margaret JewellInterior Dept. officials call CNN correspondent 'a f---ing idiot' Zinke and his wife took security detail on vacation to Turkey, Greece: report Zinke: I never took a private jet anywhere MORE at a February committee hearing that the budget maneuver amounted to a “sort of neglect of Louisiana’s needs.”

Jewell said the Obama administration wanted to use the funding, which could total $3.7 billion over the next 10 years, to restore coastal areas in federal waters around the country. 

“It’s fair to say, having also been to the Arctic, that they are having significant problems with coastal erosion as well,” she said at the February hearing. 

“This was an effort on our part to say: These are federal waters, on the Gulf coast as well as offshore in other areas, that belong to all Americans, and the benefit of the revenue from that … we believe, should support coastal resilience projects, as opposed to just being limited to those four states.”