Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Proposal Divvies Up `Windfall' from U.S. Offshore Oil Royalties

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Proposal Divvies Up `Windfall' from U.S. Offshore Oil Royalties

Article excerpt

WASHINGTON (AP) -- More than $4 billion in annual offshore oil- drilling royalties collected by the federal government has become a tempting windfall for lawmakers.

Legislation in both houses of Congress would designate about half the cash for states and the environment -- $1.9 billion next year under the Senate formula and $2.1 billion under the House plan.

Six states -- Louisiana, Texas, Alaska, California, Mississippi and Alabama -- would be the biggest winners because they have offshore oil drilling. Louisiana would get the most next year, $359 million under the Senate plan, and Texas would finish second with $196 million. But coastal states without offshore rigs also would benefit. New York would take in $79 million and Washington state would net $31 million under the Senate formula. And every state and U.S. territory would get something. "This bill will improve the lives of every American," Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, said in introducing the House measure last month. The Senate bill was introduced in January by Sen. Mary Landrieu, D- La. Royalties from drilling more than six miles off U.S. coasts now go to the U.S. Treasury to finance an array of programs. A portion, about $300 million annually in recent years, finances the land and water conservation fund, used by the federal government to buy environmentally sensitive land. Some royalties would continue to go to the Treasury under both bills -- 50 percent in the Senate measure and 40 percent in the House version. The rest would be split three ways. * Both bills would allocate 27 percent to 30 states and five territories bordering oceans and the Great Lakes. The lawmakers say coastal states have special needs to fight erosion, improve water quality and address offshore-drilling impact. Coastal states with offshore drilling, extensive coastlines and large populations would get the lion's share. * About one-fourth of the money in the House bill, less in the Senate version, would go to the conservation fund and for urban parks and recreation. …

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