Friday, February 24, 2006
By Mike Hasten
BATON ROUGE — Gov. Kathleen Blanco threw her support Thursday behind legislation filed by U.S. Rep. Bobby Jindal that seeks to secure revenues from oil and gas production off Louisiana's coast.
Jindal, R-Mandeville, said he filed the legislation as a way to help Louisiana recover from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita but mostly to help the state secure a permanent source of significant revenue that he and other officials say the state should have been receiving all along. The bill also would assist other states with offshore production.
Denying Louisiana a share of the $5 billion offshore revenues the federal government gets yearly from deepwater mineral production the state could use to protect its shoreline "is not fair, not good for the environment and not good for the nation's energy supply," Jindal said at a news conference in the state Capitol.
The disruption of oil and gas supplies by the hurricanes and the resulting high prices showed the nation Louisiana's importance and why it needs to protect its coast, he said. The bill would give the state $600 million upon passage and increase to $1 billion by 2011.
Blanco said Jindal is trying something that some of his predecessors failed to do, but she believes "this is Louisiana's time." She said she will assist in pushing the idea at a meeting of the National Governor's Association.
"I pick up the mantra with zest," she said.