The U.S. federal government is currently shutdown after Congress failed to pass the budget. This has happened in this past on a few different occasions, usually ranging from a few hours to a few days, though the most recent one lasted nearly a month from late 1995 into early January 1996
The shutdown has furloughed roughly 800,000 government workers. The Department of the Interior (DOI) would furlough about 58,000 employees out of its 72,000+ employees, and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) expects to furlough around 600 of its 10,800 employees. Ninety-four percent of EPA staff are impacted, along with 97 percent of NASA employees. Federal housing loans have been put on hold, along with all processing of visas and passports. National parks, zoos, and museums are also closed down.
If all that were not bad enough, the timing of this shutdown couldn't be worse. The U.S. budget "debt ceiling" is approaching rapidly (Oct. 17) and unless Congress agrees to raise the debt ceiling, America may go into default on her nearly $17 trillion debt.
Here's how the U.S. federal government shutdown could directly impact the alternative energy sector:
Project permitting and approval:
The Interior Department is working to approve up to 20
GW of renewable energy production on public lands by 2020.
According to the BLM, "processing of applications and any kinds of NEPA analysis will be suspended." Construction on projects that don't need BLM field monitoring or oversight can continue, providing they're not operating on sites that themselves are closed because of the federal shutdown.
So Congress has federal employees and the alternative energy sector held hostage by their inability to reach compromises! Odds are they will sort this mess out in the next few weeks, and everything will go back to normal.
But, then again, with so much division between the house and the senate, this could go on for some time.