My letter to the IEA Press Office, sent just moments ago:
I would like to know what the IEA’s official response is to a story that’s just starting to make its way around the Internet regarding the Bush Administration stopping the IEA from updating its projections until after this November’s US presidential election.
I ran into this accusation on The Oil Drum, in this post (http://europe.theoildrum.com/node/4241), in which the author says:
I have been told by a reliable source that the IEA has been forbidden by the US administration from updating their absurdly cornucopian oil supply and demand scenarios until the report that comes out late this year (after the election); that report, which will publish the result of a “bottom-up” analysis (ie a summary of all existing oil fields, their production and/or prospects) is expected to show that oil production is unlikely to reach the levels that so many have blithely assumed – notably on the basis of previous optimistic IEA reports. The IEA, which was deeply unhappy about the current lies to was supposed to present and support, has been leaking word of the expected content of that new report for many weeks now, including an increasingly alarmist tone in its official reports, such as today’s Medium Term Market Outlook:
“Structural demand growth in developing countries and ongoing supply constraints continue to paint a tight market picture over the medium-term,” the IEA said in its Medium-Term Oil Market Report, released on Tuesday in Madrid.
“Poor supply-side performance since 2004, in the face of strong demand pressures from developing countries, has forced oil prices up sharply to curb demand,” the watchdog added.
The author is “Jerome a Paris”, a very widely read and respected blogger on The Oil Drum and Daily Kos. Because of his high profile and the trust many people place in him, this accusation will very likely take on a life of its own in various online communities. Therefore, I would like to receive an on-the-record response from the IEA so I can cover this developing story on my own site (link below) in an appropriate manner.
The Cost of Energy blog: http://www.grinzo.com/energy
Let me add a little commentary to this.
I have a pretty high level of trust in Jerome a Paris, having read his work for quite some time. He’s by no means one of the Crazy People on the ‘net, or if he is, he’s hiding it extraordinarily well. I believe he’s said that he works on financing things like wind farms, so he certainly has some high-level contacts in the energy field.
On the other hand, I find it a little hard to believe that the Bush Administration can exert this kind of influence over an international organization with 27 members–unless they have some sort of veto power, ala the United Nations. As for incentive–would Bush want to delay the bad news and/or action, and dump it on the desk of the next president, in effect? Absolutely, and he’s built quite a track record on energy and environmental (and other) issues of doing just that. But that pattern of behavior doesn’t prove he did it in this particular case.
Frankly, this sounds like the birth of a classic Internet urban myth, in that it’s plausible (at least to those who have a sufficiently low opinion of the current administration and are willing to believe in such plots in general), but it’s virtually impossible to either prove or disprove definitively. And I think we all know what response I’ll get from the IEA, assuming I get one at all: They’ll categorically deny it, which is what I would expect them to say regardless of the underlying facts of the matter. But I felt that with such a huge accusation about a US president and an international organization coming from a trusted author, I was obligated to ask for an official response.