Bradley Byrne: Standing up for the Gulf Coast

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Gulf Coast Alabama beach

I am so proud to live on the Gulf Coast. From our delicious food to the abundant natural resources, our part of the country is unlike any other.

My family has called this area home since the 1780s. My family has always enjoyed fishing, swimming, boating, and just spending time on the Gulf. It has become a way of life for my family, just like it has for so many others.

For some people, the Gulf also provides for economic well-being, whether through the commercial seafood industry or our booming tourism industry.

This is why I am always on the lookout for policies or proposals that might make life harder for families living and working on or near the Gulf. Our area faces unique challenges, and I wanted to share two specific areas where I am looking out for the Gulf Coast.

First, President Barack Obama proposed in his annual budget to take offshore energy revenue away from the Gulf states and instead spend it all around the country to advance his radical climate agenda.

The President’s proposal would take money from the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act (GOMESA) of 2006. GOMESA is the federal legislation that creates a revenue-sharing agreement for offshore energy revenue between Alabama, Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. Under GOMESA, each state receives 37.5 percent of federal oil revenue from drilling of their coasts.

This money is critical to our coastal counties because it is used for important purposes like coastal restoration and hurricane preparedness. I have even suggested using a portion of Alabama’s GOMESA money to help fund the I-10 bridge project, given that I-10 serves as a hurricane evacuation route.

GOMESA was structured to benefit Gulf states because we are the ones who provide a significant share of the infrastructure and workforce for the industry. Gulf states also have inherent environmental and economic risks posed by offshore energy production.

The president’s proposal simply defies logic and is a slap in the face to all of us on the Gulf. So, I offered an amendment to the annual Department of Interior funding bill that would block any efforts to transfer GOMESA money away from the Gulf states. I’m pleased to report my amendment was adopted and included in the final bill.

Secondly, I also stood up against President Obama’s efforts to implement a “National Ocean Policy.”

Created through an executive order, the “National Ocean Policy” requires various bureaucracies to work together to “zone the ocean,” which would significantly affect the ways we utilize our ocean resources.

The “policy” would restrict ocean activities while also redirecting money away from Congressionally directed priorities. Numerous and varied industries will suffer as a result of this ill-conceived policy, including but not limited to agriculture, energy, fisheries, mining, and marine retail enterprises.

Those who are affected most by the policy don’t have a say or any representation in the rule-making process — there is no current system of oversight in place for the regional planning agencies created as an arm of the National Ocean Council.

So, again I went to bat for the Gulf Coast and offered an amendment to block any funds from being spent on the “National Ocean Policy.” My amendment passed by a vote of 237 to 189.

These are just two examples of my efforts to stand up for the Gulf Coast. I will continue to do everything I can to protect our coastal communities and make life easier for families all around the Gulf Coast.

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Bradley Byrne is a member of U.S. Congress representing Alabama’s 1st Congressional District.

8 COMMENTS

  1. RT @oceanindustries: Thank you @RepByrne for continuing your work to protect #offshore development in the Gulf of Mexico #YesOffshore

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  2. RT @oceanindustries: Thank you @RepByrne for continuing your work to protect #offshore development in the Gulf of Mexico #YesOffshore

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  3. I am not commenting to weigh in on the value of the National Ocean Policy. But there are inaccuracies here that need to be addressed. You say “[t]hose who are affected most by the policy don’t have a say or any representation in the rule-making process.” New England is the only region that has a draft regional plan under the policy and stakeholders were certainly included in the creation of that plan. They are currently conducting a number of public hearings throughout the region to continue receiving public comment. Whether or not everyone agrees with the content of the plan, stakeholders are impacting the outcomes. It’s important to remember that it’s nearly impossible to make everyone happy. There were concessions made from all parties in the creation of the northeast plan. Second, these plans have no relation to a “rule-making” process. The plans are intended to provide a framework for coordination between and among several levels and types of government, coordination that is sorely needed. The plan has no regulatory aspect. The only requirements that flow from the plan are that federal agencies must comply with them once they become certified. In other words, the plans are a mechanism through which local and state governments can influence how federal agencies work in their regions. There are several other inaccuracies in your post. Please don’t mislead your constituents. There are several legitimate complaints to be had with the creation of regional ocean plans, no need to resort to untruths.

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