Landrieu’s “fair” fight
In March, Sen. Mary Landrieu introduced the “Fair Act,” a bill that would increase revenue sharing by the federal government with state and local governments from the oil and natural gas industries. In this context, revenue sharing is tax monies received by the federal government and allocated back to state, or local governments from which the industries that paid said tax are physically located. This allocation of tax dollars has been happening for decades with a bias against coastal states.
Since 1920, interior states have kept 50 percent of revenues from all oil, gas and coal produced on federal lands. However, energy production offshore of the Gulf Coast states has generated $211 billion in federal revenues, while the states have received very little.
For instance, as highlighted by Landrieu in committee hearings, in 2011, energy production off of Louisiana’s coast generated $5.7 billion in federal revenues with $26.7 million going back to the state; while, Wyoming generated $2.1 billion in energy production revenues on federal lands and got $995 million back.
This is a stark difference. How are we producing more energy, encouraging more economic growth, gaining more revenue for the federal government, dealing with a more impoverished state, and receiving less money?
Now, this is not a hand out. That money is our right as Louisianians because that oil being refined is our area’s natural resource. The oil and gas infrastructure goes through our lakes and bayous. Our roads are worn and torn by all the equipment, as are our rivers, ship channels, and airways. Oil is spilt here, and our people spill their blood to extract that oil, process that oil, and ship out our most fiscally valuable natural resource. And the federal government won’t allow us to put those tax monies received from our companies back into the public infrastructure that supports such a large revenue maker for the entire country?
This shouldn’t be surprising. Everyone is after the money. President Barak Obama has already threatened veto of the bill.
Pamela Haze, a U.S. Interior Department deputy assistant secretary, argued during the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on the FAIR Act that the bill also could hurt Obama’s proposed Energy Security Trust fund to support research for alternative energies that would be funded through offshore drilling revenues.
The basic issue is equal rights for our state. The wealthier states in the west get much better taxing deals than our more productive, more impoverished Gulf Coast states.
Landrieu is correct in calling for our equality in taxation with the Fair Act. How much more righteously American can it get?
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