Sequestration’s $85 billion automatic spending cuts began going into effect on Friday, but the timeline and full extent of the cut’s impacts are still somewhat vague. So what’s at stake for energy and environmental programs and the energy industry at large? Here’s what major department leaders have said about the likely effects of sequestration:

In a letter to the Appropriations Committee, outgoing energy secretary Steven Chu  highlighted a concern  with the structure of the $2.4 billion in DOE budget cuts, explaining that “The effects of sequestration are particularly damaging because, by law, they apply equally to each program, project, and activity within an account, thereby severely constraining our ability to prioritize and make tradeoffs among activities under reduced finding scenarios.”

Outgoing Secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, warned that the cuts could “hurt energy sector workers and businesses,” noting that hundreds of oil and gas leases will not be issued, and the permitting process would be slowed.

According to Lisa Jackson, sequestration will diminish the EPA’s ability to regulate sites contaminated by hazardous substances, and manage ground water cleanup actions, as well as reduce the number of environmental inspections, and more.

How significantly will these cuts impact the energy sector?  What is the best way to deal with them?