Bill would extend Louisiana’s coastal jurisdiction from three to nine miles
Frustration over Washington’s restrictive policies towards the Gulf oil and gas industry has resulted in new legislation to extend Louisiana’s coastline. SB 145, authored by Sen. Dan Claitor (R-Baton Rouge) would extend jurisdiction from three miles to nine miles, ideally allowing the state to collect hundreds of millions in royalties and taxes from additional oil and gas revenues.
SB 145 passed unopposed through the Senate Natural Resources Committee and was passed by the Senate by a vote of 34-0 this past Wednesday. It has now been referred to the House for consideration. Claitor argues that Louisiana is suffering from “intrinsically unfair” federal laws which grant Texas and Florida nine-mile coast lines, yet in contrast afford Louisiana only three miles of coastal jurisdiction. Other notable proponents include Sen. Norby Chabert (R-Houma) and Gov. Bobby Jindal.
According to the Department of Natural Resources, an extended coastline could net the state an extra $342-480 million dollars annually – money currently being expropriated by the federal government.
Louisiana technically does not have legal authority to extend its own coastline. The current jurisdiction was determined by the Supreme Court in United States of America v. States of Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, & Florida, 363 U.S. 1 (1960), which delineated Louisiana’s three-mile long coast while granting Florida and Texas nine miles each.
According to Claitor, the intent of the legislation is to pique the attention of Washington towards this subject. Washington’s response will ultimately entail action by either Congress or in the judicial system. Either way, the government will be forced to make a ruling.
Claitor believes, however, that any potential costs of litigation will be trumped by revenue from an extended coastline.
If SB 145’s committee hearing was an indication, the bill will not encounter sizeable opposition in the state legislature. However, Claitor and others anticipate controversy with the federal government, particularly because of its potential precedent for states’ rights and the tactic of preemption.
Jamison Beuerman is a contributing writer and policy analyst at the Pelican Institute for Public Policy. He can be contact via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @jbeuerman.