[StBernard] [LANDRIEU] BREAKING NEWS: Senate Passes Domenici-Landrieu "Fair Share" Plan

Westley Annis westley at da-parish.com
Sun Dec 10 09:41:11 EST 2006


U.S. Senate Passes Domenici-Landrieu

"Fair Share" Plan in Early Morning 79-to-9 Vote President Truman's offer
"accepted," sent to President in final vote of 109th Congress;

37.5 percent of offshore revenues to go to Louisiana and other Gulf Coast

WASHINGTON - In its last roll call vote of the 109th Congress, the United
States Senate at 1:49 this morning passed by a 79-to-9 vote final
legislation that includes the Domenici-Landrieu Gulf of Mexico Energy
Security Act, S. 3711. The bill opens substantial new areas to oil and
natural gas drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and shares billions of dollars in
revenues with Louisiana and other energy-producing Gulf Coast states for
coastal wetlands restoration, hurricane protection and flood control
projects. An additional share will be used to build parks and preserve green
spaces in all 50 states. The package also includes several key tax
provisions, including a two-year extension of the Gulf Opportunity (GO) Zone
tax incentive that provides strong motivation to invest in the Gulf Coast.
The measure will now go to President Bush for his signature, after the House
overwhelmingly passed the bill with a 367-45 vote Friday afternoon.

"Today the Senate confirmed its strong support for Louisiana and the entire
Gulf Coast by passing the Domenici-Landrieu fair-share bill, which after
nearly 60 years, provides for Louisiana a significant share of oil and gas
revenues produced off our shores," Sen. Landrieu said. "In August, 71
Senators agreed to the bill because they recognized that a dedicated stream
of revenue is necessary for Louisiana to protect itself from future storms.
Katrina and Rita showed us what devastation can ensue if our communities
remain vulnerable."

"The Louisiana congressional delegation and Governor Kathleen Blanco, Lt.
Governor Mitch Landrieu and many local officials, business leaders and civic
groups never stopped working to achieve this goal," Sen. Landrieu said after
today's House vote. Numerous groups have been essential to this effort,
including America's WETLAND Campaign to Save Coastal Louisiana, Parishes
Against Coastal Erosion, Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, Women of
the Storm, Levees.org, Coast Guardians as well as national groups such as
the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Chemistry Council,
the Consumer Alliance for Energy Security, the Agriculture Energy Alliance
and countless others."

Domenici-Landrieu Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act

The fair share legislation passed by bipartisan majorities in both the House
and Senate is identical, word for word, comma for comma, to the
Domenici-Landrieu bill the Senate passed by a 71-25 vote on August 1, and
reflects President Truman's support - offered more than 50 years ago - for
coastal states to receive a 37.5 percent share of the revenues they generate
offshore. Coauthored by Sen. Landrieu and Senate Energy Committee Chairman
Pete Domenici, R-N.M., and endorsed by the White House in July, the plan
opens 8.3 million acres in the Gulf of Mexico to new oil and natural gas
production and shares 37.5 percent of the new revenues with Louisiana,
Texas, Mississippi and Alabama. The funds are specifically dedicated to
coastal wetlands restoration, hurricane protection, levee and flood control
projects in the four energy-producing states. An additional 12.5 percent is
dedicated to the state side of the Land and Conservation Fund, which funds
the acquisition of parks and green spaces across the country.

"The Domenici-Landrieu fair share bill is essential for the recovery and
long-term economic vitality of South Louisiana from Venice to Cameron
because it will help us defend against hurricanes while at the same time
protecting one of America's most vital ecosystems," Sen. Landrieu said after
Friday's House vote. "It's also vital for the nation because it increases
energy production along America's only Energy Coast and restores the
wetlands that protect some of our nation's most critical energy
infrastructure. It further serves the Louisiana economy by creating jobs and
stimulating business activity, and does so in a fiscally responsible manner
without raising the federal budget deficit."

In the last decade, the price of natural gas has shot up. The National
Association of Manufacturers estimates that more than 3 million U.S. jobs
have been lost since 2000. The Domenici-Landrieu plan allows for increased
domestic energy production for the first time in 25 years, and geologists
expect to find significant oil and natural gas reserves. The area is
projected to produce enough natural gas to sustain more than 1,000 chemical
plants for 40 years, and enough oil to keep 2.7 million cars running and 1.2
million homes heated for more than 15 years.

The Domenici-Landrieu bill is a significant step toward solving South
Louisiana's coastal erosion and hurricane protection challenges, as
Louisiana is projected to receive more than $13 billion over the next 30
years. Coupled with that, the state is expected to receive $12 billion for
hurricane protection, wetlands restoration and navigation projects in the
next 10 years from the regular budget process and other previous
legislation, such as The Breaux Act, the Coastal Impact Assistance Program
Sen. Landrieu championed last year, and Katrina- and Rita-related
supplemental appropriations bills which Sen. Landrieu helped to craft from
her position on the Senate Appropriations Committee. Bonding programs will
also allow the state to begin taking immediate action to restore and protect
the coast by relying on future funds.

Tax Extenders

The legislative package the House passed along with the Domenici-Landrieu
plan would extend tax breaks benefiting Louisianians. Most important among
these is the Gulf Opportunity (GO) Zone tax incentive, which the whole
delegation has been pushing Congress to extend. The GO Zone incentive passed
in 2005 has allowed hundreds of businesses to invest in areas impacted by
Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and to take a 50 percent tax reduction for new
facilities or equipment, jumpstarting recovery by giving businesses an
incentive to quickly invest. Current law requires that businesses put new
facilities or equipment in place by the end of 2008, but the package will
extend the benefit until 2010.

"Many businesses need incentives, such as the GO Zone tax breaks, to
encourage redevelopment in very difficult circumstances, which is essential
to strengthening our economy and rebuilding our communities," Sen. Landrieu
said after the House vote.

The package also includes some extensions for expiring trade benefits to
countries including Vietnam.

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