EIA Head Objected to Politically Dictated “Garbage” Subsidy Report, But Delivers it Anyway

Read time: 2 mins

Stephen Lacey from ClimateProgress on Tuesday detailed a letter sent to the Energy Information Administration (EIA) by three GOP House members asking the EIA to use loaded assumptions in running its models to show that fossil fuels are a better taxpayer investment than renewable energy sources.

These members, each of whom has received campaign funding from fossil fuel interests, essentially requested a report designed to suggest that renewables get huge public subsidies (they don’t) and that government handouts to fossil fuels and nuclear energy are a better deal for taxpayers (they aren’t). It was a blatant attempt to defend oil industry subsidies, and it put EIA in the unenviable position of lending its credibility to the talking points used by the oil, gas and coal industries.
Lacey reported that in a rare moment of sanity in Washington, the report was halted before it was turned over to the GOP requestors. Lacey’s report says that EIA cited “quality assurance” concerns, and would revisit the report to ensure it gives a “full picture,” accurate account of energy subsidies, not a politically driven result.
But “quality assurance” was the kindest way to portray what really happened.
DeSmogBlog has learned from sources familiar with the report’s fate that Howard Gruenspecht, Acting Administrator of the EIA, “hit the roof” when he learned about the assumptions the members had insisted the EIA use to draft the report.  Gruenspecht reportedly called it “garbage” and reminded staffers within earshot that the EIA was a government agency that was supposed to do impartial analysis, “not provide talking points to members of Congress.” Gruenspecht then called a meeting early the following morning at which the decision was made to halt distribution of the report and not give it to the requestors on the due date.

As of this writing, however, DeSmogBlog has learned that the EIA has reversed itself, providing the report to the three Republican House members.

Get DeSmog News and Alerts


a 2008 report by the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) looked at the subsidy per megawatt hour for electricity generation and the subsidy per million British thermal units (BTUs) for nonelectrical use. Total subsidies for electricity generation amounted to $6.7 billion in 2007. While the average subsidy per megawatt hour for all sources was $1.65, the subsidy for wind and solar was about $24 per megawatt hour. On the non-electricity generating side, ethanol received a subsidy of $5.72 per million BTUs.

“As of this writing, however, DeSmogBlog has learned that the EIA has reversed itself, providing the report to the three Republican House members.”


In other words, the EIA tried to bury yet another politically and financially embarassing report, to hide the Obama administration’s gross mismanagement and waste, tried to buy themselves enough time to cook the books, but were finally forced to hand over the report anyway.

Nice way to twist the story there, Brendan. You don’t happen to work for a PR company, do you? Oh, wait, you do.

And paraphrasing George Soros’ far-left Climate Progress?
Yeah, that’ll help your credibility … sure.


Nice way to twist the meaning and further misinform.

Sure, if the only meaningfull criteria is how much subsidy per megawatt, then you are probably right. This is not a new talking point. So what?

The fossil fuel industry has been subsidized since 1918 in the case of oil, and 1932 for coal. Subsidies are usually used to help new industry or technology get out of the starting blocks, like in the case of solar and wind power. They were never ment to coddle an extremely profitable and politically powerful industry for a century.

People who support wind power, or solar power, believe that it can one day be competitive IN QUANTITY with hydro, coal, or nuclear. If as much energy were generated from wind as from nuclear–a tenfold increase from today–the total subsidies would be 20 times as much as they are for nuclear. The government thinks it can do this in 20 years. The subsidies currently are set to run for at least ten and the wind industry is lobbying for 20 or 30.

It is dishonest to total up the miniscule amount of wind energy and declare that the lavish subsidies per unit are therefore no big deal, when at the same time you say that wind production should increase 10 or 20 fold in the next 20 years.