I’ve been a critic at times of the US Energy Information Administration, but this is genuinely alarming news: budget cuts mean an immediate suspension of core activities, such as publishing an annual greenhouse gas inventory for the nation.
The carbon accounting is one of the bigger losses, but in the future we’ll also know less about international energy statistics (of which EIA has long been a very valuable data provider), solar energy, geothermal energy, and electricity imports and exports. The agency will not continue work on the 2012 Annual Energy Outlook, nor will it continue to publish analysis of domestic oil reserves. And it will cease work to understand the effects of refinery outages, as well as the links between energy markets and financial trading. Just so, there will no longer be state-level figures available for petroleum product prices, including gasoline and diesel.
This marks a rather steep descent into information darkness. Just when we need it most, we’ll have less access to solid data about renewable energy, oil prices, and greenhouse gas emissions. We’ll have a weaker basis for comparison with other countries and regions. And we’ll have an even more tenuous grasp—and less shared understanding—of the interaction between financial markets and the energy that consumers rely on.
I think everyone agrees that the energy road ahead is bumpy. Now it looks as though we’ll be traversing it with one eye shut.