Murkowski Introduces New Revenue Sharing Bill

Under Senator Murkowski’s plan, coastal states would receive 27.5 percent of revenue generated from offshore energy.

In Alaska, a quarter of that sum would go to coastal boroughs with the rest going into state coffers.

Senator Murkowski said coastal states deserve money brought in from federal waters.

“We willingly want to access these resources; they provide good jobs and benefits most certainly,” she said at Wednesday morning press conference. “But there is impact. There is undeniably impact.”

“Impacts” like new infrastructure and traffic to oil spills, something neither she nor Senator Mary Landrieu mentioned when they unveiled their bill. Landrieu, a Democrat, represents oil-rich Louisiana.

The plan creates revenue sharing of 50 percent for onshore renewable energy projects. Senator Murkowski said that puts renewables and fossil fuels on the same plane, because states now take home half of federal revenues for onshore oil, gas and coal development.

And the new bill would also allow states to pocket an extra 10% of the federal offshore revenue, if they opt to use it to create conservation funds, or invest in renewable energy.

Senator Murkowski said that could raise a state’s total stake to 37.5%.

“We want to do more to encourage the development, the research and development, the build out of our clean energy sources,” she said. “What better way to do that, to help pay for that, than from some of our offshore energy opportunities?”

Just last week President Barack Obama proposed his plan to use money from offshore lease sales to encourage investment in alternative fuel cars and trucks.

Including the money for conservation and renewable energy may win over some skeptical Democrats, but not all.

Eight Democratic senators are circulating a letter opposing revenue sharing; saying any money generated from lease sales should go to paying down the debt, and oil spilled off the coast of one state could harm neighboring ones.

Senator Landrieu said Gulf Coast States have contributed $211 billion to the treasury in oil and gas revenues, and that helps the entire country.

“There are only four states producing that money. It’s not Illinois. It’s not New Jersey. It’s Texas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama,” she said at the same press conference.

That’s a dig at Senators Dick Durbin, Bob Menendez and Frank Lautenberg. They represent Illinois and New Jersey and signed the letter of opposition.

Durbin is the number two Democrat in the Senate.

The bill does not call for any increased production, so overall, the federal government would earn less money if the bill became law. Congress will need to find cuts elsewhere to offset the loss of federal revenue.

Both Senators Murkowski and Landrieu deferred any talk of cost to the Finance Committee, a committee neither serves on.

Senator Mark Begich introduced his own revenue sharing bill earlier this year, one that looks quite different from Senator Murkowski’s.

He said his plan would put more money into the local economies and Native Corporations but less into the state.

“The key for me is making sure the local communities, including the tribes are part of the equation,” he said before a Senate vote.

He said the two plans can be reconciled.

Either would have to pass the Senate Energy Committee before it can be considered by the whole Senate.

There’s no planned committee action yet.

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