Revenue Sharingby Former Senator Mark Begich
Posted on 2013-03-12
BEGICH. Madam President, I rise to take exception with some of my
colleagues--and I hate to say this--on my side of the aisle. This
subject is very frustrating. I am talking about a letter I reviewed
from March 8. It is a letter from the Senate Energy Committee. The
letter talks about revenue sharing and offshore oil and gas development
and how that Federal revenue should be shared.
When I read this letter, it sounds as if there is some evil monster lurking in the deep, which is far from the truth. It is very frustrating--and I hate to say this--to see some of my fellow Democrats trying to make energy policy without talking to folks who are in the energy-producing States.
Let me make this very clear. I am here to talk about revenue sharing. The letter is laid out as if it is about revenue sharing. After reading the letter, I found out that it is really about opposing offshore oil and gas development of any kind. I come from a State that is heavily invested in this endeavor, and to say revenue sharing is inherently inequitable is somewhat comical. What is inequitable is to drain resources from our energy-producing States without compensating them for the impacts of this needed development.
I introduced legislation 6 weeks ago to make sure Alaskans get their fair share of the resources developed along our coastlines. Our communities are greatly impacted by development. My goal is to share Federal energy resources generated off Alaska's coast with the State and local governments as well as Alaska's Native people. It is just common sense.
My bill not only encourages increased and responsible development of Alaska's energy resource, but it also makes sure our communities benefit directly from oil and gas being produced in our State. The idea is to help State, local, and tribal governments pay for the public sector infrastructure required to develop these resources.
My bill also requires oil produced in the Federal waters of the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas--for those who may not always know where Alaska is, it is not near the coast of California, which every map seems to show. It is up north near Canada and has an enormous amount of resources in the Arctic area, and it is called the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas.
My bill also requires oil produced in the Federal waters of the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas to be brought ashore by pipeline. This is safer than tanker transport and secures a future throughput for the Trans-Alaska Pipeline that feeds this country.
The bill provides Alaska with 37.5 percent of Federal bonus bids and royalty shares from any energy development--fossil or renewable. Let me make this clear: Again, when I first read this letter, they seemed to be outraged by revenue sharing. As I look at it closer, it is really about how they don't like offshore development. As I read it, it says they don't like oil and gas.
Before I got here, this Congress passed revenue sharing for the Gulf States, but they excluded Alaska. Even though Alaska is the farthest away from the lower 48, and it is one of this country's fuel sources, there is no revenue stream at all--period. We have a huge impact with the development of our housing, transportation, water, and sewer. We need to have the capacity so these communities can support this large development.
My bill provides just what the Gulf States get--37.5 percent of the Federal revenues. We are not adding new taxes. We are taking what is collected--- or in the future what would be collected. The 37.5 percent of Federal revenues would be delivered in the following way: 25 percent will go to the local governments; 25 percent will go to the Alaska Native village and regional corporations. In some ways they are similar to the Indian Country in the lower 48 States but different in how they operate. In any event, it will provide services to Alaska Native communities. Ten percent will go directly to tribal governments, and the remaining 40 percent will go to the State of Alaska to deal with the impacts of this.
This bill also requires 15 percent of the Federal share of royalties be directed to the Land and Water Conservation Fund. Why is that important? It is important because that not only touches coastal States, it touches every State. Almost $900 million annually would be directed for the purpose of land and water conservation throughout this country.
Finally, a percentage of the 37.5 percent of the Federal share would be dedicated directly to deficit reduction.
Again, as I read the letter, they make it sound very evil. They make it sound like it is some monster lurking in the waters. This doesn't sound so evil. This is about fairness to our State and any coastal State that develops oil and gas off their shores.
Again, as I read the letter, it is clear that friends and colleagues on my side of the aisle don't get what it means when we have this type of development and what type of infrastructure we have to provide to balance that infrastructure and ensure the people of that State get the resources and the development they need--especially when we extract from our State. People come and extract from our State and use it elsewhere. Our State should be left with some stream of revenue.
They make a point in the letter, which this bill does address, as far as having 37.5 percent of these resources go to the States. The answer to that is simply, yes. Yes, it does. Relying on the Federal Government to determine what is best for these States doesn't always work out so well. We are now finally doing a CR with some modifications, and I am glad we are.
After 4 years of seeing how this place operates, I will put my bet on State, local, and tribal governments to deliver the services we need. If it means that we take money from the Federal Government and give it to these local communities to do the job, I am all for it.
As a former mayor, I know what we can do when we are given the resources [[Page S1681]] and how we will spend it efficiently and do what is right for the communities we represent.
I appreciate the moment to talk on this issue. It is frustrating to see these letters. The Presiding Officer is from an energy State and knows what it is like when people propose their ideas for their States--and never talk to us about it--or propose what we should be working on. We should have communication.
It is frustrating to have people from my own side of the aisle say we are not sharing our resources with the rest of the country when we do share. It is also frustrating that some of those on my side of the aisle oppose something which makes so much sense. We need to give more control to the local people who are extracting resources from the coastline.
I thank the Presiding Officer for allowing me to speak.
At this time I yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The clerk will call the roll.
The bill clerk proceeded to call the roll.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Maryland.