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Free Government Information (FGI) is a place for initiating dialogue and building consensus among the various players (libraries, government agencies, non-profit organizations, researchers, journalists, etc.) who have a stake in the preservation of and perpetual free access to government information. FGI promotes free government information through collaboration, education, advocacy and research.

Terabytes of Enron data have quietly gone missing from the Department of Energy

This is yet another disturbing example of data loss documented by our friends at MuckRock. Evidently, a large amount of data from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) having to do with the infamous Enron Corporation has gone missing and even FERC staff do not know where it went.

How many examples will we need to post before libraries and archives get with the program and try and figure out ways to collect, archive, preserve and give access to born-digital information posted on .gov sites? And how does this particular example of data loss NOT happen again in the brave new world of open government data (aka H.R. 4174 the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018 which was recently signed into law and described by Alex Howard)? If you’re as concerned as I am, you’ll contact FERC and request a copy of their data for your library.

Government investigations into California’s electricity shortage, ultimately determined to be caused by intentional market manipulations and capped retail electricity prices by the now infamous Enron Corporation, resulted in terabytes of information being collected by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. This included several extremely large databases, some of which had nearly 200 million rows of data, including Enron’s bidding and price processes, their trading and risk management systems, emails, audio recordings, and nearly 100,000 additional documents. That information has quietly disappeared, and not even its custodians seem to know why…

…While terabytes of information has disappeared, up to 4,516 documents remain available through a pair of predefined searches of FERC’s eLibrary. While FERC claims that they, not Lockheed Martin or CACI, do offer a trio of Enron datasets on CD, FERC has not responded to repeated requests for these datasets sent over the past two months.

via Terabytes of Enron data have quietly gone missing from the Department of Energy • MuckRock.

Oil and Gas Information Sources

Here, from the Columbia Journalism Review, is a Reporter’s Toolbox of primary sources of information related to gasoline prices and oil production in the US, which journalists can use to evaluate and clarify the political rhetoric.

  • Reporter’s Toolbox: Oil and Gas Prices, By Curtis Brainard, Columbia Journalism Review (March 22, 2012).

    Every year, news stories about US gasoline prices appear in the early spring and remain popular until the end of the summer driving season in September. But “pain at the pump” takes on special significance during presidential election years, as Republicans and Democrats use gas prices to attack one another’s energy policies and curry favor with voters. This year, the GOP is blaming the Obama administration for rising prices, but in 2008, it was Barack Obama, then a senator from Illinois, who was pointing his finger at Washington. Make no mistake, all such accusations rest on shaky ground. The price of gasoline is determined primarily by the price of crude oil (in February it accounted for 72 percent of the cost of regular unleaded and 65 percent of the cost of diesel), which is established by a global market over which US energy policy holds little short-term sway.

    The 2012 campaign has already seen innumerable claims and counterclaims related to gas prices and domestic oil production. Journalists should be fact checking all those statements, letting their readers and viewers know whether they represent truth or spin. More often than not, however, they drop competing quotes into their stories without assessing their relative merits. This is lazy reporting that does a disservice to voters. We understand it can be hard to dig up the necessary background on deadline, especially while traveling.

A Roundup of Recent Government Info News and New Resources

More news and new resources via INFOdocket.com.

1. White House Launches Ethics.gov

2. USDA: Consumers to Receive Timely Food Safety Alerts Through New State Twitter Feeds

3. A Law Classification Scheme as Linked Data?

4. Access GAO Reports and Legal Decisions via New App for iOS (Free)

5. National Broadband Map Updated, New Data Added

6. United Nations Releases 2012 E-Government Survey (Full Text), Country Rankings Updated

7. Compare Country Statistics With New United Nations CountryStats iOS App (Free)

8. UNESCO Releases World Atlas of Gender Equality in Education (Full Text, Free)

9. New Online Database from NIH: Genetic Testing Registry, Video Tutorials Available

10. Open Data: DOE Data Explorer Now Searches Individual Datasets

11. Archivist of the United States Appoints New Director of Presidential Libraries

Reductions in EIA’s Energy Data and Analysis Programs

Along with reductions at the Census Bureau and reductions in federal openness websites, we now have word from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) that budget reductions will “require significant cuts in EIA’s data, analysis, and forecasting activities.”

The press release has a long list of projects and publications that will reduced, terminated, and curtailed:

Cuts include:

  • Do not prepare or publish 2011 edition of the annual data release on U.S. proved oil and natural gas reserves.
  • Curtail collection and dissemination of monthly state-level data on wholesale petroleum product prices, including gasoline
  • Terminate updates to EIA’s International Energy Statistics
  • 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.

Big Hat tip to Gary’s Full Text Reports blog!

In the News: Memorandum of Understanding Between the United States and Brazil to Advance Cooperation on Biofuels

Thanks to my colleague Shirl Kennedy at DocuTicker.com for posting direct links to this “in the news” document.

Memorandum of Understanding Between the United States and Brazil to Advance Cooperation on Biofuels

Also online is this DOS News Release.