If the Senate increases energy-revenue sharing for coastal states, it will do so without the support of the Obama administration -- and likely after a debate that pits interior states against their coastal counterparts in the fight for federal dollars.
For the White House, the measure to reallocate 37.5 percent of energy revenues to coastal states poses a deficit challenge, according to Interior Department Deputy Assistant Secretary Pamela Haze, who said the U.S. Treasury would lose more than $5 billion if the bill became law.
She cited sequestration, saying the proposal from Democrat Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Republican Lisa Murkowski of Alaska would stress an already reduced federal budget.
That did nothing to quash the senators' anger over the Obama administration's position. Landrieu and Murkowski grilled Haze, noting the revenue sharing granted to interior states for coal and gas revenues is about 50 percent.
"Is it the Department's intention to perpetuate a double standard?" Landrieu asked.
When Haze said the administration is not explicitly opposing the bill, but simply "cannot support it," Landrieu cut her off. "It's the same thing," the senator said.
Haze did not address the discrepancy in revenue sharing for interior states, stating only that the administration "would continue revenue sharing based on existing law."