Bracing for the Sequester
As February draws to a close with Congress no closer to a deal on the domestic sequester, $85 billion in automatic budget cuts are scheduled to begin tomorrow, with potentially disastrous effects on the renewable energy industry.
Speaking at the Offshore Wind Power USA conference earlier this week, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said, “The potentially devastating impact of budget reductions under sequestration could slow our economy and hurt energy sector workers and businesses.” While this is true for all parts of the energy industry—the cuts could put up to 300 oil and gas leases in jeopardy, for example—it is particularly bad news for renewables: fewer studies, less stakeholder input, and delays in licensing and permitting.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu agrees. In a letter to the Senate Appropriations Committee earlier this month, Chu warned that “funding reductions would decelerate the Nation’s transition into a clean energy economy, and could weaken efforts to become more energy independent and energy secure, while spurring overall economic growth.” Additionally, cuts to the Department of Energy could cripple the Department’s efforts to improve grid security and reliability.