Common-sense energy policy should include increased revenue-sharing

Washington isn’t run on practicality and common sense. Even when discussing domestic energy production, some politicians seem to treat it more like a four-letter word than sensible policy when cozying up to the far-left crowd.

Common sense is certainly being rejected by President Obama’s politically minded officials who continue to prevent any expansion of domestic energy production on the resources they’re charged with managing — even though it’s clearly a no-brainer. As an example, just recently, senior White House energy adviser Heather Zichal was asked directly if the administration would support increased offshore energy production. Zichal admitted to planning to keep to “our existing [Outer Continental Shelf] plan and nothing else.”

Zichal’s statements are unfortunate, given that increasing energy production would immediately address our nation’s energy, employment and financial crises by unleashing domestic energy resources for exploration and production, which is pure free-market investment.

There’s really no disputing the fact that our nation’s domestic energy production on federal lands and waters has been stymied by this administration and is trending in the exact opposite direction of the rapid growth we’re seeing on private and state lands. I recently introduced a new bill, the Energy Production and Project Delivery Act of 2013, which would reverse the negative trend by increasing access to our domestic resources.

For coastal states, maybe the most important part of my bill is that it would significantly increase federal offshore revenue-sharing without increasing Washington debt by a single dime. In fact, my bill is the only bill before Congress that increases federal offshore revenue-sharing that would be paid for. This obviously means more money coming into states and no additional deficit spending — a win-win. The states producing oil and gas off their shores deserve to be rewarded for that energy production. For example, states like Louisiana that produce energy only receive a small portion of the revenue generated from the production. The rest goes to Washington. I’ve always said that they’re our coasts, our risk and our workers, so more of that revenue should remain where it was created.

Obama is trying again to pull the wool over our eyes with an alternative energy “trust fund” established with offshore revenues. With Zichal’s statements providing context, the president has no way to pay for the fund without increased production, so the alternative is siphoning off revenue that should otherwise go to Gulf States.

My bill is different. It would increase the cap on how much revenue coastal energy-producing states are eligible to get. If the law isn’t changed, the cap will be $500 million per year starting in 2017. My bill would increase the cap to $1 billion starting in 2017, and then up to $2 billion starting in 2025.

In Louisiana, we dedicate that revenue to coastal restoration, an urgent and significant need for our state. Other states would be able to dedicate that revenue for their own needs. I’m proud to have 23 co-sponsors of my bill in the U.S. Senate. 

My bill would have a huge impact on the entire nation by making more of our abundant natural resources on federal lands available. We need to take away the administration’s lock and key and eliminate the perpetual delay and block tactics that are killing projects around the United States. While the president continues to assert that oil is gushing, he’s standing on the hose. It’s time to forgo the administration’s empty rhetoric and instead increase energy production offshore and onshore. We could start with my commonsense plan, the Energy Production and Project Delivery Act of 2013.

Vitter is the ranking member of 
the Senate Committee on 
Environment and Public Works.