The only thing we can be sure of about the future is that it will be absolutely fantastic. So if what I say now seems to you to be very reasonable, then I have failed completely. Only if what I tell you appears absolutely unbelievable, have we any chance of visualizing the future as it really will happen.

- Arthur C. Clarke (h/t Brin)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Energy Information Administration Press Release

H/T KoTR, who asks "does anybody see a problem with this?"


Immediate Reductions in EIA's Energy Data and Analysis Programs Necessitated by FY 2011 Funding Cut

WASHINGTON, DC - The final fiscal year (FY) 2011 budget provides $95.4 million for the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), a reduction of $15.2 million, or 14 percent, from the FY 2010 level.

"The lower FY 2011 funding level will require significant cuts in EIA's data, analysis, and forecasting activities," said EIA Administrator Richard Newell. "EIA had already taken a number of decisive steps in recent years to streamline operations and enhance overall efficiency, and we will continue to do so in order to minimize the impact of these cuts at a time when both policymaker and public interest in energy issues is high," he said.

EIA must act quickly to realize the necessary spending reductions during the present fiscal year, which is already more than half over. The changes in products and services identified below reflect initial steps to reduce the cost of EIA's program. Additional actions are being evaluated and may result in further adjustments to EIA's data and analysis activities in the near future.

Initial adjustments to EIA's data, analysis, and forecasting programs include the following:

Oil and Natural Gas Information

  • Do not prepare or publish 2011 edition of the annual data release on U.S. proved oil and natural gas reserves.

  • Curtail efforts to understand linkages between physical energy markets and financial trading.

  • Suspend analysis and reporting on the market impacts of planned refinery outages.

  • Curtail collection and dissemination of monthly state-level data on wholesale petroleum product prices, including gasoline, diesel, heating oil, propane, residual fuel oil, and kerosene. Also, terminate the preparation and publication of the annual petroleum marketing data report and the fuel oil and kerosene sales report.

  • Suspend auditing of data submitted by major oil and natural gas companies and reporting on their 2010 financial performance through EIA's Financial Reporting System.

  • Reduce collection of data from natural gas marketing companies.

  • Cancel the planned increase in resources to be applied to petroleum data quality issues.

  • Reduce data collection from smaller entities across a range of EIA oil and natural gas surveys.

Electricity, Renewables, and Coal Information

  • Reduce data on electricity exports and imports.

  • Terminate annual data collection and report on geothermal space heating (heat pump) systems.

  • Terminate annual data collection and report on solar thermal systems.

  • Reduce data collection from smaller entities across a range of EIA electricity and coal surveys.

Consumption, Efficiency, and International Energy Information

  • Suspend work on EIA's 2011 Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS), the Nation's only source of statistical data for energy consumption and related characteristics of commercial buildings.

  • Terminate updates to EIA's International Energy Statistics.

Energy Analysis Capacity

  • Halt preparation of the 2012 edition of EIA's International Energy Outlook.

  • Suspend further upgrades to the National Energy Modeling System (NEMS). NEMS is the country's preeminent tool for developing projections of U.S. energy production, consumption, prices, and technologies and its results are widely used by policymakers, industry, and others in making energy-related decisions. A multiyear project to replace aging NEMS components will be halted.

  • Eliminate annual published inventory of Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the United States.

  • Limit responses to requests from policymakers for special analyses.

In addition to these program changes, EIA will cut live telephone support at its Customer Contact Center.

The changes outlined above and the additional actions that may be required to align EIA's program with its FY 2011 funding level are undoubtedly painful for both users of EIA energy information and EIA's dedicated Federal and contractor staff. We will work with stakeholders to minimize the disruption associated with the changes identified above and will issue specific guidance to affected survey respondents soon. We remain committed to maintaining the bulk of EIA's comprehensive energy information program and strengthening it where possible, consistent with the available level of resources.

EIA Press Contact: Jonathan Cogan, 202-586-8719, Jonathan.Cogan@eia.gov

EIA-2011-07

12 comments:

Michael Tobis said...

Problem? Why no. That saves almost five cents per capita. No way I would pay a nickel for those services.

Sloop said...

This is disgusting.

The federal agencies can only be hoping that when the consequences of draconian budget cuts to their work become concrete, the public will wake up and smell the coffee. It's a faint hope.

I'm waiting anxiously to see how EPA will respond to its evisceration in FY 2011. We're heading into some serious political fights over what has been done to that agency. State environmental agencies will be hurt badly too by not having a strong EPA and possibly cuts to EPA pass-through funding.

What can we expect as the FY2012 federal budget starts to shape?

David B. Benson said...

In free market theory, those who need that information will pay for it.

In practice...

King of the Road said...

I appreciate the H/T and agree with the sentiment BUT:

Living in California (not that budget problems are unique to CA but...) and starting with the passage of Proposition 13 I've noted that when governments feel the need to convince people that they must pay more to that government, they start by cutting things that are most visible and will hurt the people from whom they want money the most.

Here, locally it's: close fire stations, lay off teachers and police, close parks and libraries, etc. People shriek at this. No on shrieks when they're told "we're going to have to cut the number of administrative personnel in the school district" or that average age of a police car will have to be a year older.

My gut reaction is that these types of action plans represent a combination of advertising and revenge on the part of the governing class.

While I haven't looked deeply into the rationale of this specific cut (only the spectacularly damaging nature of the information vacuum to be created), it wouldn't surprise me if this rationale was active.

Michael Tobis said...

I am not sure I buy that. Bureaucratic managerial power is proportional to the size of the empire in head count. Bureaucracies HATE losing heads.

Amortizing a car over five years instead of 4 can save you $5000. So if you have a fleet of twenty cars you can maybe save one head that way. How many cars do you suppose EIA has?

It is interesting to note that Chu fought for an increased budget according to Wikipedia, so this is more of a bait and switch than a wrecking ball. It will certainly mess with some people's lives just the same, and this story is being repeated with state and federal jobs all over the place just when government ought to be priming the pump.

Somebody up on the budget process ought to update that paragraph in the Wikipedia article.

King of the Road said...

I'm not sure I buy it either. I have seen it locally though. It's parks, libraries first, 911 operators, police and firemen second, etc. Deputy assistant secretaries: not so much. And, as you saw if you clicked on the link, the Draconian cuts necessitated by Prop. 13 barely and only temporarily slowed down the rate of increase in the state budget, even in inflation adjusted per capita dollars.

In any case, I'll ante up my nickel and yours too to have that information available.

King of the Road said...

By the way, you can still get real chemistry set (I had a couple as a kid, I bet you had at least one as well - mine were Gilbert). But that chemical free set was appalling.

guthrie said...

Hmm, here in the UK, stuff like parks and libraries are cut first precisely because they can't be quanitfiably be shown to be worth anything, not because someone wants to play games and hurt the public. Then when the public, who have been using such amenities for years without any fuss find out, they get annoyed and the cuts are often reduced. BUt the rhetoric and actions are always based on concepts of worth, so the councils would rather spend more money on dodgy shopping centres than on keeping a park open, since you don't get much money out of a park.

Or in one case they sign the park over to a private company (Who then starts building holiday homes) in return for some very odd perks and a few pounds, and hopefully the police will soon be investigating...

Jonathan Gilligan said...

It's not just EIA. Census is threatening to stop publishing the Statistical Abstract of the US.

David B. Benson said...

Here is Michael Levi: Congratulations to those policymakers who thought that cutting the EIA budget would be wise: You’ve managed to lose a few ounces of weight by removing a small sliver of your brain. from
http://blogs.cfr.org/levi/2011/04/28/budget-deal-casualties/

Peter T said...

I used to be a bureaucrat, and had to deal with cuts. 80% of your budget is staff, and it costs to shed them. You can choose to salami-slice across all functions, but with big cuts whole functions/sites have to go - managers and all. Then you look at what is protected by long term contracts. Areas of direct employment are easiest to deal with. In this context I think this translates into data collection, in-house analysis and payments for services like publishing. You try to keep the core people (who are lower level) if you are sensible, But the room to move can be very narrow.

byron smith said...

It's not like we needed that extra information anyway, right? I mean, when was the last time any of this stuff figured in the process of political deliberation? Legislators seem content to work in a fact-free zone, research just distracts them.