Jessa Potvin

Offshore Energy Revenue Sharing Gets a Bi-partisan Boost

August 4, 2015

Jessa Potvin

The work to bring offshore energy to South Carolina is continuing, and U.S. Senator Tim Scott is determined that revenue sharing makes financial sense for our state.  In 2014, Scott introduced the Southern Energy Access Jobs Act (SEA Jobs Act), which would not only open the way for offshore exploration in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, but also ensure that these states receive 37.5% of the total revenue from leases.

Our state government would receive $3.7 billion says Scott, and his bill would give us the power to use the funds however our state sees fit.  We could even improve our roads and make schools a better place for our children!

By allotting 37.5% of revenue to the states, Scott’s bill follows the successful model of the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act, or GOMESA, which allows the Gulf States to share 37.5% of the revenue produced by certain leases and use that revenue for coastal conservation, restoration, and hurricane protection.  Observing the grand results in the Gulf States, GOMESA’s enactor, former senator Mary Landrieu, a Democrat, believes revenue sharing is an invaluable policy that all coastal energy-producing states should enjoy.

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The Obama Administration’s draft oil and gas leasing plan for 2017-2022, however, proposes ending revenue sharing in the Gulf States, and according to Scott “…is simply not a robust plan…” Yet, in the face of this opposition towards revenue sharing, bi-partisan support has risen: two Virginia Democrats have joined Scott and other to make sure states get a fair shake.

In May, Democratic Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, introduced the “Southern Atlantic Energy Security Act” (SAESA).  Another Virginia Democrat, Senator Tim Kaine, is a cosponsor of the bill along with Senator Scott, and three other senators from North Carolina and Georgia.

Both Scott’s bill and SAESA consider the beauty of the shoreline, create one South Atlantic planning area, create geological and geophysical education programs and establish revenue sharing.  The revenue is divided differently: 50% would be allocated to the states, and 50% deposited into the general fund of the Treasury. Under Warner’s law, a state would use 10% of its funds for land and water conservation, state public transportation projects, alternative energy production, and enhancing beaches. Another 2.5% should be employed for education programs.

In a joint statement Warner and Kaine said that they will, “continue to push for legislation to allow Virginia to have the same revenue-sharing system currently applied to Gulf Coast states.”  With such dedicated, bi-partisan support, the Offshore Opportunity created by revenue sharing may someday lay a promising future right at our doorstep!