Democratic News

In a lopsided 36-61 vote, the Senate today rejected a proposal to further expand offshore oil and gas revenue sharing with a small number of coastal States. The oil and gas resources of the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), outside the three-mile limit to State waters, belong to the Federal government generally, and currently constitute the third largest source of Federal revenue, after income taxes and customs duties.  The revenues form an important source of funds for programs benefitting all 50 States through the appropriations process. 
 
With the demise of the OCS moratorium and the lifting of the Presidential withdrawal on offshore oil and gas leasing last year, proposals to carry out offshore revenue sharing have moved into a different budget scoring situation in Congress.  Previously, a Congressional act lifting a Presidential withdrawal on an OCS area scored as new fiscal revenues that could be spent.  Starting last fall, though, any new OCS revenue sharing must be offset with either increased taxes or cuts to entitlement programs.
 
Today, the Senate went decisively on record against this possibility as part of the Budget Resolution.
 
Sen. Bingaman, who voted against the amendment, noted: “I have always found the thought of taking resources from the OCS – which is owned by all Americans and which is not part of any State – and dedicating the revenue to just a handful of States to be unfair.  To make additional OCS revenue sharing budget-neutral, we would have to either raise taxes on all Americans or cut worthwhile programs.  That makes this proposal even more unpalatable to me and my colleagues.”
 
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