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Accelerating Oil Cash


  The Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act that Congress adopted five years ago will eventually send millions of dollars to Louisiana for coastal protections. Louisiana's share of offshore oil and gas royalties, which will be split with other energy producing states, will not get here in significant amounts until 2017, however. Hoping to speed things up, Louisiana's congressional delegation and state officials are pushing for legislation that would accelerate the revenue sharing program.

  Fashioning an argument is the easy part — the encroaching oil from the BP rig explosion needs to be addressed sooner rather than later. As for why Louisiana should be accorded special treatment in relation to other coastal states battling the oil spill, a strategy is developing. Garret Graves, chairman of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, compares the relatively smooth coastal borders of Florida, Alabama and Mississippi to Louisiana's spiderweb-like estuaries and passes that allow salt water to creep farther into this state.

  "You can see how fragmented and how broken our shoreline is in Louisiana," Graves says. "It's a fundamentally different problem in coastal Louisiana to have oil pollute and contaminate our shoreline than in other states." — Alford

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