Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell has filed a civil lawsuit against the Department of Interior (DOI) over the federal government’s redrawing of Gulf of Mexico (GOM) boundaries that determine how states receive mineral royalties.

The redrawn GOM boundaries would require Louisiana to share $2.81 million in royalty revenue collected since 1986 with neighboring Texas and Mississippi, Caldwell said.

In changing the boundaries of the Gulf Coast states’ GOM Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) zones, DOI failed to follow the legal mandates of the Administrative Procedures Act, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act (OCSLA), the Submerged Lands Act and the Federal Debt Collection Act, according to the lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. DOI’s change in defining the boundaries of the zones and its substantive changes in the allocation of revenues from the zones was “arbitrary and capricious,” according to the lawsuit.

“Interior’s action will cause loss of revenue to the state of Louisiana inconsistent with federal law,” said Sen. David Vitter (R-LA). “Louisiana should not be the victim of unilateral agency action. I support the state’s decision and share their concerns that Interior’s new line would eliminate significant revenue for Louisiana — in this case funds for critical education programs.”

By redrawing a line off Louisiana’s shore marking a zone three miles past the state water line where a portion of federal energy royalties are shared with states, DOI would increase federal revenue and decrease state revenue, Vitter said. The line was originally established by OCSLA.

According to the lawsuit, DOI informed Louisiana of the change last spring by sending the state lease correction forms for oil and gas leases on the OCS offshore Louisiana “based on the alternations to OCS maps, as well as changes in the method of allocating revenues between the adjacent coastal states.”

Louisiana Department of Natural Resources said Dec. 16 the weekly count of rigs operating in the federal OCS off Louisiana’s coast had reached its highest point since the deepwater drilling moratorium was enforced in May 2010 (see Daily GPI, May 28, 2010). The Dec. 16 rig count of 35 rigs drilling in Louisiana OCS waters was still lower than the average count of about 42 rigs running during the three months prior to the moratorium, which was declared lifted in October 2010 (see Daily GPI, Oct. 13, 2010).

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