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Louisiana Sues Feds Over Offshore Oil Leases

WASHINGTON (CN) - Louisiana claims the Secretary of the Interior arbitrarily redrew offshore Gulf Coast oil lease zones and slapped the state with an unfair $2.81 million bill for "alleged excess revenue disbursements over the last 25 years."

Louisiana sued Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and his Department, and its dependent agencies, including the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, and the Office of Natural Resources Revenue. The state alleges violations of the Administrative Procedure Act, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the Submerged Lands Act and the Federal Debt Collection Act.

"This suit challenges DOI's final actions changing its methodology for determining the share of revenues generated from oil and gas leases in the Gulf of Mexico on the Outer Continental Shelf that must be distributed to coastal states" the complaint states.

Louisiana says Uncle Sam changed the oil and gas lease boundaries this year, claiming that the changes were based on alterations to Outer Continental Shelf maps and changes in the method of allocating revenues between Gulf Coast states.

According to the complaint, the Department of Interior replaced a lateral line extending through a zone known as 8(g) zone with an arc-based boundary that gives Texas and Mississippi the right to revenue collected by Louisiana in the past 25 years.

"DOI informed Louisiana that, based upon DOI's removal of the lateral 8(g) zone boundaries and modifications to its allocation of revenues, DOI, since 1986, allegedly provided Louisiana with approximately $2.81 million in excess revenue disbursements," Louisiana says.

The state says the government violated the Administrative Procedure Act by failing to explain and support its decision and by failing to allow public comment. It also claims the federal government lacks the authority to demand the $2.81 million.

It seeks an injunction preventing the federal agencies from implementing the new boundaries and from billing Louisiana for the excessive disbursements created by the boundaries.

Louisiana is represented by Attorney General James "Buddy" Caldwell, and Jonathan Simon, with Van Ness Feldman in Washington.


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