Federal Sequestration May Threaten Energy Code

Originally published by: ASHRAEAugust 17, 2012

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If Congress does not act within the next few months, virtually all federal programs will face an automatic across-the-board funding cut of about 8%. This comes as a result of the Budget Control Act, which was enacted by Congress last year, and created the so-called “super committee” that was charged with proposing spending cuts of at least $1.2 trillion over ten years. Because the super committee failed to produce a recommendation, and Congress failed to enact a savings bill, automatic cuts, commonly called “sequestration” are scheduled to take place early next year. Sequestration was intended to pressure Congress to enact a savings plan, but now Members of Congress are suffering from a kind of buyer’s remorse, and are scrambling to change the law they created.

Notably, one of the agencies that would be impacted by sequestration is the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), which administers the Commercial Buildings Energy Consumption Survey (CBECS). Because EIA has a comparatively small budget (currently $105 million), it would be significantly impacted by sequestration, and may be at risk of having to suspend or scale-down programs such as CBECS, since the Survey represents a large portion of EIA’s budget.

Similarly, activities such as the U.S. Department of Energy’s Building Energy Codes Program, and Building Technologies Program may also have to be scaled-down or otherwise impacted as a result of sequestration, unless Congress acts.

How to preserve important programs, while addressing the need to decrease the nation’s deficit and debt will be among the unavoidable issues that Members of Congress must wrestle with in the coming months.

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