For decades now, the Gulf of Mexico has been central to oil and gas production in the U.S. But if President Obama's proposed budget passes without major changes, you may see fleets of rigs, production platforms, and supply boats abandoning the Gulf at full speed ahead.

The new administration is looking to raise at least $31.5 billion from the oil and gas industry during the next decade, and it appears that the Gulf has become a favorite target for these fundraising activities. For instance an estimated $5 billion would come from a new excise tax, potentially up to 13%, targeted for Gulf production.

Actually, a Gulf money squabble has been ongoing for about 10 years, since price triggers were mistakenly left off Gulf royalty contracts by the government in the late 1990s. Six companies, including Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE:RDS-A) and ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP), agreed to knuckle under and fork over royalties on their leases in 2006. But when they wouldn't include past production in the new agreement, the deal fell apart.

The majority of the companies involved in Gulf production -- ExxonMobil (NYSE:XOM), Chevron (NYSE:CVX), and Total (NYSE:TOT), to name just a few -- never agreed to renegotiate the leases. There is also an array of other trinkets included in the energy portion of the proposed budget. For instance the new document would impose a "use-it-or-lose it" fee for companies holding -- but not operating -- leases in the Gulf. That obviously would cover the contention that there are millions of acres under lease that the companies haven't seen fit to touch with a drill bit.

But the clear winners in the budget draft are the renewable energy folks, companies like First Solar (NASDAQ:FSLR). As a group, those that create and deploy clean energy tech are set to receive $15 billion in federal support.

Perhaps the Obama administration believes that new energy forms are simply waiting in the wings, ready to drive oil and gas into restful retirement.  I'm convinced however, that whether we like it or not, for most of our lifetimes, hydrocarbons will do the heavy lifting relative to our energy requirements.

Further, I believe Fools should invest accordingly -- not loading up on traditional energy, but certainly staying represented in the sector. My favorites remain ExxonMobil with its ultra strong balance sheet and technological strengths, and improving BP (NYSE:BP), which will start you off with a nearly 9% dividend yield.  

Exxon has been granted four stars by the Motley Fool's CAPS investment community, while BP wears five. Why not add your rating to the mix?

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Fool contributor David Lee Smith doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned. He does, however, welcome your questions or comments. The Fool has a disclosure policy.