In times of rising gas prices and uncertainty about the nation's overall energy future, it would seem that obtaining information on energy would be a top priority for our government. But not so. The Energy Information Administration, the statistical arm of the Department of Energy, is facing a 14 percent cut in the 2011 spending bill. That'll hamper its ability to crunch numbers on gas prices, oil and gas production, and industry profits. Sure, gas prices are shaping up to be a major football for the 2012 election, but talk is cheap, and data is expensive!
As you might imagine, there was a small backlash to this news:
“Congress will need to do a better job of protecting the federal programs, like the Energy Information Administration, that are crucial to our understanding what is actually going on with energy supplies, energy demand and energy markets,” [Sen. Jeff] Bingaman [D-N.M.] said.
Government should be in the business of understanding what is actually going on? A lot of your fellow public servants in Congress are going to have to agree to disagree with you on that one, Sen. Bingaman.
Perhaps the government being informed about its energy resources might be handy for the nation's long-term fiscal health. But nothing connotes seriousness in Washington so much as poorly thought-out short-term hacks at this year's deficit in the name of austerity.