Louisiana Oil Royalties Stuck In Washington

September 27, 2006
Reported by Vince Atkinson

The fate of billions of dollars that could dramatically impact Louisiana for years to come could be in jeopardy. The money would come from off shore drilling royalties. Right now Louisiana only gets a small percentage of the oil and gas royalties from the federal government. For the past few months we have told you about plans in Washington that would have dramatically increased Louisiana's "piece of the pie." This move would bring billions of dollars to the Bayou State, but it looks like that may not be happening.

Speaking to 7 News via satellite from Washington, Senator Mary Landrieu described the latest impasse happening in D. C. Landrieu said, "I think the Gulf Coast is basically being held hostage right now by the Atlantic politics. We just can't seem to get past that." The problem centers around off shore drilling and more specifically the royalties it generates. States located along the Gulf of Mexico, including Louisiana were preparing to receive billions more from the federal government. The House of Representatives wants to hold off on the plan until off shore drilling is legalized off the U.S. Atlantic Coast line.  Landrieu said, "The problem with that is, we don't have the governor's along the Atlantic Sea board in step with that. We don't have senators of either part, republican or democrat that are in step with that."

This is a problem that is leaving Louisiana in a holding pattern. The state is not only waiting for badly needed cash, but also the right to drill for oil and gas in new parts of the Gulf. Landrieu said, "The Senate bill opens up 9 million acres, which is enough gas to fuel a thousand chemical plants for 40 years. That is a lot of gas that we are just leaving in the ground."

Although lawmakers in Washington seem to have reached a stale-mate, the fight is not over. The Senate and the House still have about two days to reach some kind of agreement, but that is not likely.