Energy agencies roll through shutdown while EPA, Interior stalled
- The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and Department of Energy are continuing operations as the partial government shutdown enters its third week, thanks to a "minibus" budget law signed by President Trump last year.
- The Environmental Protection Agency is shut down after running out of carryover funding from last year on Dec. 28, as is the Interior Department, which could pose delays to offshore wind and drilling plans.
- A prolonged shutdown also could delay a vote on key energy appointees, such as the confirmation of Acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler as the agency's permanent leader.
Federal energy agencies are continuing to operate during the partial government shutdown that has stretched more than two weeks, but EPA and Interior employees have been on furlough since before the new year.
Last September, Trump signed a partial budget package for 2019 that included funding for DOE and FERC, along with money for military construction, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the legislative branch.
That bill, product of a Congressional compromise, reversed deep cuts the president had proposed in renewable energy research at DOE. But Trump warned he would not sign another similar bill without funding for a wall at the U.S.-Mexico border.
That issue is now at the center of the standoff with Congressional Democrats that has other federal employees out of work.
On Dec. 28, Wheeler announced EPA had exhausted funding available from last year that allowed the agency to continue work after the shutdown officially began on Dec. 21.
At Interior, the shutdown is likely to delay planned public meetings in Massachusetts on the 800 MW Vineyard Wind project proposed south of the Martha's Vineyard coast.
Last month, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, a DOI division, said it would delay scheduled meetings on Jan. 8 and Jan. 9 if the shutdown continued into Monday morning. If it persists into next week, meetings on Jan. 15 and Jan. 16 will also be rescheduled.
The shutdown put a hold on the release of a plan for offshore oil and gas leasing sales, scheduled for mid-January, S&P Global reported last week.
Trump sent a new proposal for a scaled-back border barrier to Congress on Monday, but if a deal is not reached energy nominations could be in jeopardy as well. Last week, Bloomberg Environment reported that Wheeler had expected to be nominated to the EPA's top spot shortly after Congress came back into session last week, but the shutdown has so far prevented it.
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