What federal shutdown means for energy

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

With Congress's failure to pass a budget, today the U.S. federal government entered shutdown mode.  For 800,000 federal workers, shutdown means being furloughed until Congress resolves the budget.  What does the shutdown mean for the energy sector?

Each federal agency is reacting differently to the shutdown.  For the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, it means continued normal business operations - as long as it still has funds on hand.  What happens after that?  According to a contingency plan issued last week, when those funds run out, FERC will continue "only those excepted activities authorized by law" to the extent that they protect life and property.  These activities include the work of the Commissioners themselves, hydroelectric and liquefied natural gas inspections, managing the reliability of the nation's electric and gas systems, and monitoring market operations.

The U.S. Department of Energy faces similar impacts from the shutdown.  It has some funds remaining on hand, but when those funds run out, according to its "lapse in appropriations plan", of its 13,814 employees, only 1,113 excepted personnel and 11 Presidentially-appointed and Senate-confirmed employees will remain on the job.

The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will continue some operations.  According to its contingency plan, between 35 – 40% of Bureau employees will continue to report for full time duty, and BOEM will continue to work on current offshore wind projects and other renewable energy plans.

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