Because of draconian budget cuts, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) is stepping back its investigation of how speculators are driving up oil prices. Earlier this month, Reuters estimated “the total speculative premium in U.S. crude oil was between $21.40 and $26.75 a barrel,” which translates to about a 50-cent premium on the price of a gallon of gasoline at the pump. In 2009, following a similar speculative surge in 2008, the EIA established an Energy and Financial Markets Initiative to “improve energy market transparency, support sound policy and efficient markets, and increase public understanding.”
In order to implement the EIA’s budget reduction of $15.2 million, or 14 percent, from the FY 2010 budget, administrator Richard Newell announced a bevy of cutbacks, including an end to “efforts to understand linkages between physical energy markets and financial trading.” Here are just a few of the cuts:
— 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 auditing of data submitted by major oil and natural gas companies and reporting on their 2010 financial performance through EIA’s Financial Reporting System.
— Terminate annual data collection and report on solar thermal systems.
— Halt preparation of the 2012 edition of EIA’s International Energy Outlook.
— Eliminate annual published inventory of Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the United States.
The Tea Party Congress has marked up another success in its mission to give power to Big Oil and Wall Street while keeping the rest of America in the dark.