WASHINGTON – A bipartisan group of Senators from the Southern Atlantic delegation – led by U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Tim Scott (R-SC), along with Tim Kaine (D-VA), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and David Perdue (R-GA) – has introduced offshore energy legislation that allows mid- and South Atlantic coastal states – Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia – to share in the revenue from energy resources developed offshore, an arrangement similar to that of Gulf Coast states.
“I have long supported an all-of-the-above approach to domestic energy production, including the safe, responsible development of energy resources off the mid-Atlantic coast,” said Sen. Warner. “Our bipartisan legislation includes appropriate environmental protections and an equitable formula for sharing revenues between the state and federal governments.”
“As the Obama Administration continues to take steps to open our offshore for study and potential energy production, I am pleased to help introduce this important, bipartisan legislation that will give leaders in South Carolina and other mid- and South Atlantic states a strong voice in the process,” Sen. Scott said. “South Carolina’s pristine coastline is a world class tourist destination and will always be a cornerstone of our state’s economy. I worked to ensure this legislation protects our tourism industry while opening the door to new economic opportunities. Safe and responsible energy production off the Atlantic coast has the ability to grow our economy, create thousands of good paying jobs and continue to strengthen our nation’s energy future.”
“The responsible development of energy resources off the Atlantic coast will strengthen our energy security and create jobs in Virginia,” said Sen. Kaine. “This bipartisan bill will ensure that Atlantic coast states get revenue shares from these resources as Gulf Coast states do, including a dedicated funding stream for clean energy, land conservation or transportation. It also includes appropriate measures to safeguard viewsheds and guard against any infringement on Department of Defense activities. I applaud the good faith bipartisan work that went into this effort, which will bolster America’s domestic energy potential while directing funding streams to important energy and environmental priorities.”
“This bipartisan legislation will not only expand offshore energy development off the southern Atlantic Coast, but will allow for the support of hundreds of thousands of jobs, reduce utility costs for families and move our nation closer to energy independence,” said Sen. Tillis. “I’m pleased to co-sponsor this legislation that will help relieve the financial burdens of so many North Carolinians and improve our economy, while setting America on a positive path toward becoming an energy superpower.”
“I support expanding our energy resources for our state and our country, and I believe Georgia should receive a portion of revenue from offshore energy production, just as Gulf Coast states currently receive,” said Sen. Isakson. “Adding additional areas for energy exploration would help our state create new jobs and make the United States more energy secure.”
“Georgians want to see our economy moving in the right direction, and that means our nation needs a smart domestic energy strategy,” said Sen. Perdue. “This commonsense, bipartisan legislation will bring us a step closer towards energy independence and help us reach our full energy potential.”
The Southern Atlantic Energy Security Act directs the Secretary of the Interior to hold three lease sales for the South Atlantic in the 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf leasing program, and establishes fair revenue sharing between the states, with half the resulting revenues going to the federal government and half to the states. 10 percent of the state-allocated funds must be used for either land and water conservation efforts, beach nourishment and costal dredging, public transportation projects, or for alternative, clean, or renewable energy production and generation. 2.5 percent of the state-allocated funds must be used on a public-private partnership between industry, nominated institutes of higher education and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) to enhance and broaden the study of geological and geophysical sciences, encourage new STEM studies of offshore energy resources and educate the next generation of America’s offshore energy scientists.
Each state would receive a proportionate share of the funds based on their coastline’s relationship to the location of an offshore lease, with no state receiving less than 10 percent of the revenues.
This legislation follows on the heels of an April letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, asking for the inclusion of revenue sharing legislation in any energy access legislation that the Committee considers this Congress.
In January, the U.S. Department of the Interior proposed opening the Mid- and South Atlantic regions to offshore oil and gas leasing. However, legislation is required in order to allow neighboring coastal states to share in any of the revenue from energy resources developed offshore.
Last Congress, Sens. Warner and Kaine introduced the Virginia Outer Continental Shelf Energy Production Act, which would have expanded responsible offshore energy development off the Virginia coast and provided for revenue sharing. Sen. Warner also introduced similar legislation in 2011 and 2012. Sen. Scott also introduced his SEA Jobs Act last Congress, which would have expanded America’s energy production to offshore Atlantic states to increase responsible offshore energy production and job growth, spur new educational training programs, and strengthen America’s national security by lessening dependence on dangerous countries for energy.