Scott Joins Colleagues to Direct Offshore Energy Funds Back to the States, Help Strengthen Coastal Communities

WASHINGTON – This week, Senator Scott joined Senators Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), and 20 of their Senate colleagues as a cosponsor of the Reinvesting in Shoreline Economics and Ecosystems (RISEE) Act. The legislation would direct money generated from offshore wind projects back to the states nearest to those projects.

Current law requires that all revenues generated from offshore wind leases and production beyond six nautical miles from states be sent to the U.S. Treasury. The RISEE Act would allow South Carolina to generate revenue from these leases, giving the state and local governments more resources to better protect the Carolina coastline.

“Coastal states like South Carolina are actively pursuing an all of the above energy approach, especially now that failed leadership in Washington has crippled our domestic energy production and endangered our national security,” said Senator Scott. “I would rather see revenue from these newer projects get into the capable hands of South Carolinians instead of it all going to the U.S. Treasury. Leaders in the state know the needs of our coast better than any of the bureaucrats in Washington.”

State funds from offshore wind revenue could be used for the following:

  1. Coastal restoration, hurricane protection, or resiliency infrastructure;
  2. Mitigating damage to natural resources; or
  3. Implementing a marine, coastal, or conservation management plan.

Additionally, 37.5 percent of offshore wind revenues would serve as a further dedicated funding source for the National Oceans and Coastal Security Fund (NOCSF).  This fund provides competitive grants to coastal communities to respond to coastal erosion and sea level rise, restore coastal habitat, and make improvements to coastal infrastructure.

The RISEE Act would also amend the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA) to create a new stream of funding by equalizing mineral rights revenues for offshore leases and devoting that money to coastal resiliency and flood mitigation projects.

The bill amends GOMESA by:

  1. Eliminating the state revenue sharing cap, currently at $375 million;
  2. Lifting the Land & Water Conservation Fund’s state side funding cap of $125 million;
  3. Adding the National Oceans and Coastal Security Fund (NOCSF) as a fourth GOMESA equity (12.5%);
  4. Making oil and gas leases from 2000-2006 eligible for future GOMESA payments to Gulf Coast states and the NOCSF. Currently, only leases from 2007 to present are eligible for GOMESA payments. EIA reports 11 new oil and gas fields in the Gulf of Mexico that will contribute to the overall growth in U.S. production are GOMESA eligible under current law, and another eight would qualify under this proposed change; and
  5. Protecting GOMESA revenues from sequestration.

This bill is co-sponsored by U.S. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Angus King (I-Maine), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), and Alex Padilla (D-Calif.).

Full text of the bill can be found here.