United States Department of Energy

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United States Department of Energy
Seal of the United States Department of Energy.svg
Seal of the U.S. Department of Energy
Flag of the United States Department of Energy.svg
Flag of the U.S. Department of Energy
US Dept of Energy Forrestal Building.jpg
James V. Forrestal Building, Department Headquarters
Agency overview
FormedAugust 4, 1977;43 years ago (1977-08-04)
Preceding agencies
Headquarters James V. Forrestal Building
1000 Independence Avenue
Southwest, Washington, D.C., U.S.
38°53′13″N77°1′34″W / 38.88694°N 77.02611°W / 38.88694; -77.02611 Coordinates: 38°53′13″N77°1′34″W / 38.88694°N 77.02611°W / 38.88694; -77.02611
Employees14,382 federal civilian (2018) [1]
93,094 contract (2008)
Annual budget$31.7 billion (2020) [2]
Agency executives
Website energy.gov

    The United States Department of Energy (DOE) is a cabinet-level department of the United States Government concerned with the United States' policies regarding energy and safety in handling nuclear material. Its responsibilities include the nation's nuclear weapons program, nuclear reactor production for the United States Navy, energy conservation, energy-related research, radioactive waste disposal, and domestic energy production. It also directs research in genomics; the Human Genome Project originated in a DOE initiative. [3] DOE sponsors more research in the physical sciences than any other U.S. federal agency, the majority of which is conducted through its system of National Laboratories. [4] The agency is led by the United States Secretary of Energy, and its headquarters are located in Southwest Washington, D.C., on Independence Avenue in the James V. Forrestal Building, named for James Forrestal, as well as in Germantown, Maryland.


    Jennifer Granholm is the Secretary of Energy as of February 25, 2021. [5]


    Formation and consolidation

    In 1942, during World War II, the United States started the Manhattan Project, a project to develop the atomic bomb, under the eye of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. After the war in 1946, the Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) was created to control the future of the project. [6] [7] Among other nuclear projects, the AEC produced fabricated uranium fuel cores at locations such as Fernald Feed Materials Production Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. [8] [9] [10] In 1974, the AEC gave way to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which was tasked with regulating the nuclear power industry, and the Energy Research and Development Administration, which was tasked to manage the nuclear weapon, naval reactor, and energy development programs.[ citation needed ]

    The 1973 oil crisis called attention to the need to consolidate energy policy. [11] [12] [13] On August 4, 1977, President Jimmy Carter signed into law The Department of Energy Organization Act of 1977 (Pub.L.   95–91 , 91  Stat.   565 , enacted August 4, 1977), which created the Department of Energy. [14] The new agency, which began operations on October 1, 1977, consolidated the Federal Energy Administration, the Energy Research and Development Administration, the Federal Power Commission, and programs of various other agencies. Former Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger, who served under Presidents Nixon and Ford during the Vietnam War, was appointed as the first secretary.

    Weapon plans stolen

    In December 1999, the FBI was investigating how China obtained plans for a specific nuclear device. Wen Ho Lee was accused of stealing nuclear secrets from Los Alamos National Laboratory for the People's Republic of China. Federal officials, including then-Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, publicly named Lee as a suspect before he was charged with a crime. The U.S. Congress held hearings to investigate the Department of Energy's mishandling of his case. Republican senators thought that an independent agency should be in charge of nuclear weapons and security issues, not the Department of Energy. [15] All but one of the 59 charges against Lee were eventually dropped because the investigation finally proved that the plans the Chinese obtained could not have come from Lee. Lee filed suit and won a $1.6 million settlement against the federal government and news agencies. [16]

    Loan guarantee program of 2005

    In 2001, American Solar Challenge was sponsored by the United States Department of Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. [17] After the 2005 race, the U.S. Department of Energy discontinued its sponsorship. [18]

    Title XVII of Energy Policy Act of 2005 authorizes the DOE to issue loan guarantees to eligible projects that "avoid, reduce, or sequester air pollutants or anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gases" and "employ new or significantly improved technologies as compared to technologies in service in the United States at the time the guarantee is issued". [19] In loan guarantees, a conditional commitment requires to meet an equity commitment, as well as other conditions, before the loan guarantee is completed. [20]

    The United States Department of Energy, the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), the Institute of Nuclear Materials Management (INMM), and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) partnered to develop and launch the World Institute for Nuclear Security (WINS) in September 2008. WINS is an international non-governmental organization designed to provide a forum to share best practices in strengthening the security and safety of nuclear and radioactive materials and facilities. [21]


    On March 28, 2017, a supervisor in the Office of International Climate and Clean Energy asked staff to avoid the phrases "climate change," "emissions reduction," or "Paris Agreement" in written memos, briefings or other written communication. A DOE spokesperson denied that phrases had been banned. [22] [23]

    In a May 2019 press release concerning natural gas exports from a Texas facility, the DOE used the term 'freedom gas' to refer to natural gas. The phrase originated from a speech made by Secretary Rick Perry in Brussels earlier that month. Washington Governor Jay Inslee decried the term "a joke". [24] [25] [26]


    Secretary of Energy Deputy Secretary of Energy
    *Associate Deputy Secretary of Energy
    Assistant Secretary of Energy (Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy)
    Assistant Secretary of Energy (Nuclear Energy)
    Assistant Secretary of Energy (Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability)
    Assistant Secretary of Energy (International Affairs)
    Assistant Secretary of Energy (Congressional and Intergovernmental Affairs)
    Assistant Secretary of Energy (Cybersecurity, Energy Security and Emergency Response) [27]
    Office of the General Counsel
    Office of the Chief Financial Officer
    Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy
    Energy Information Administration
    Bonneville Power Administration
    Southeastern Power Administration
    Southwestern Power Administration
    Western Area Power Administration
    Federal Energy Regulatory Commission
    Enterprise Assessments
    Energy Policy and System Analysis
    Intelligence and Counterintelligence
    Loan Programs Office
    Public Affairs
    Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization
    Under Secretary of Energy for Science Office of Science
    Assistant Secretary of Energy (Fossil Energy)
    Indian Energy Policy and Programs
    Technology Transitions
    Under Secretary of Energy for Nuclear Security National Nuclear Security Administration
    Under Secretary of Energy National Laboratory Operations Board
    Associate Under Secretary of Energy (Environment, Health, Safety and Security)
    Office of Management
    Chief Human Capital Officer
    Chief Information Officer
    Economic Impact and Diversity
    Hearings and Appeals
    Assistant Secretary of Energy (Environmental Management)
    *Legacy Management

    The department is under the control and supervision of a United States Secretary of Energy, a political appointee of the President of the United States. The Energy Secretary is assisted in managing the department by a United States Deputy Secretary of Energy, also appointed by the president, who assumes the duties of the secretary in his absence. The department also has three under secretaries, each appointed by the president, who oversee the major areas of the department's work. The president also appoints seven officials with the rank of Assistant Secretary of Energy who have line management responsibility for major organizational elements of the Department. The Energy Secretary assigns their functions and duties.

    Symbolism in the seal

    Excerpt from the Code of Federal Regulations, in Title 10: Energy: [28]

    The official seal of the Department of Energy "includes a green shield bisected by a gold-colored lightning bolt, on which is emblazoned a gold-colored symbolic sun, atom, oil derrick, windmill, and dynamo. It is crested by the white head of an eagle, atop a white rope. Both appear on a blue field surrounded by concentric circles in which the name of the agency, in gold, appears on a green background."

    "The eagle represents the care in planning and the purposefulness of efforts required to respond to the Nation's increasing demands for energy. The sun, atom, oil derrick, windmill, and dynamo serve as representative technologies whose enhanced development can help meet these demands. The rope represents the cohesiveness in the development of the technologies and their link to our future capabilities. The lightning bolt represents the power of the natural forces from which energy is derived and the Nation's challenge in harnessing the forces."

    "The color scheme is derived from nature, symbolizing both the source of energy and the support of man's existence. The blue field represents air and water, green represents mineral resources and the earth itself, and gold represents the creation of energy in the release of natural forces. By invoking this symbolism, the color scheme represents the Nation's commitment to meet its energy needs in a manner consistent with the preservation of the natural environment."


    The Department of Energy operates a system of national laboratories and technical facilities for research and development, as follows:

    Other major DOE facilities include:


    Nuclear weapons sites

    The DOE/NNSA has federal responsibility for the design, testing and production of all nuclear weapons. NNSA in turn uses contractors to carry out its responsibilities at the following government owned sites:

    Sign in front of the United States Department of Energy Forrestal Building on 1000 Independence Avenue in Washington D.C. Department of Energy Sign.jpg
    Sign in front of the United States Department of Energy Forrestal Building on 1000 Independence Avenue in Washington D.C.


    On May 7, 2009 President Barack Obama unveiled a $26.4 billion budget request for DOE for fiscal year (FY) 2010, including $2.3 billion for the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). That budget aimed to substantially expand the use of renewable energy sources while improving energy transmission infrastructure. It also proposed significant investments[ clarification needed ] in hybrids and plug-in hybrids, smart grid technologies, and scientific research and innovation. [31]

    As part of the $789 billion economic stimulus package in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Congress provided Energy with an additional $38.3 billion for fiscal years 2009 and 2010, adding about 75 percent to Energy's annual budgets. Most of the stimulus spending was in the form of grants and contracts.[ citation needed ] For fiscal year 2013, each of the operating units of the Department of Energy operated with the following budgets: [32]

    Nuclear Security$11.5
    Energy and Environment$9.5

    In March 2018, Energy Secretary Rick Perry testified to a Senate panel about the Trump administration's DOE budget request for fiscal year 2019. The budget request prioritizes nuclear security while making large cuts to energy efficiency and renewable energy programs. The proposal is a $500 million increase in funds over fiscal year 2017. It "promotes innovations like a new Office of Cybersecurity, Energy Security, and Emergency Response (CESER) and gains for the Office of Fossil Energy. Investments would be made to strengthen the National Nuclear Security Administration and modernize the nuclear force, as well as in weapons activities and advanced computing." However, the budget for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy would be lowered to $696 million under the plan, down from $1.3 billion in fiscal year 2017. Overall, the department's energy and related programs would be cut by $1.9 billion. [33]

    Programs and contracts

    Energy Savings Performance Contract

    Energy Savings Performance Contracts (ESPCs) are contracts under which a contractor designs, constructs, and obtains the necessary financing for an energy savings project, and the federal agency makes payments over time to the contractor from the savings in the agency's utility bills. The contractor guarantees the energy improvements will generate savings, and after the contract ends, all continuing cost savings accrue to the federal agency. [34]

    Energy Innovation Hubs

    Energy Innovation Hubs are multi-disciplinary meant to advance highly promising areas of energy science and technology from their early stages of research to the point that the risk level will be low enough for industry to commercialize the technologies. [31] The Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors (CASL) was the first DOE Energy Innovation Hub established in July 2010, for the purpose of providing advanced modeling and simulation (M&S) solutions for commercial nuclear reactors. [35]

    The 2009 DOE budget includes $280 million to fund eight Energy Innovation Hubs, each of which is focused on a particular energy challenge. Two of the eight hubs are included in the EERE budget and will focus on integrating smart materials, designs, and systems into buildings to better conserve energy and on designing and discovering new concepts and materials needed to convert solar energy into electricity. Another two hubs, included in the DOE Office of Science budget, were created to tackle the challenges of devising advanced methods of energy storage and creating fuels directly from sunlight without the use of plants or microbes. Yet another hub was made to develop "smart" materials to allow the electrical grid to adapt and respond to changing conditions. [31]

    In 2012, the DOE awarded $120 million to the Ames Laboratory to start a new EIH, the Critical Materials Institute, which will focus on improving the supply of rare earth elements, which is controlled by China. [36]

    Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy

    ARPA-E was officially created by the America COMPETES Act, authored by Congressman Bart Gordon, [37] within the United States Department of Energy (DOE) in 2007, though without a budget. The initial budget of about $400 million was a part of the economic stimulus bill of February 2009. [38]


    List of Secretaries of Energy

    #NameTerm President served
    1 James R. Schlesinger August 6, 1977August 23, 1979 Jimmy Carter
    2 Charles W. Duncan, Jr. August 24, 1979January 20, 1981
    3 James B. Edwards January 23, 1981November 5, 1982 Ronald Reagan
    4 Donald Paul Hodel November 5, 1982February 7, 1985
    5 John S. Herrington February 7, 1985January 20, 1989
    6 James D. Watkins March 1, 1989January 20, 1993 George H. W. Bush
    7 Hazel R. O'Leary January 22, 1993January 20, 1997 Bill Clinton
    8 Federico F. Peña March 12, 1997June 30, 1998
    9 Bill Richardson August 18, 1998January 20, 2001
    10 Spencer Abraham January 20, 2001January 31, 2005 George W. Bush
    11 Samuel W. Bodman February 1, 2005January 20, 2009
    12 Steven Chu January 21, 2009April 22, 2013 Barack Obama
    13 Ernest Moniz May 16, 2013January 20, 2017
    14 Rick Perry March 2, 2017December 1, 2019 Donald Trump
    15 Dan Brouillette December 4, 2019January 20, 2021
    16 Jennifer Granholm Nominee Joe Biden

    See also

    Related Research Articles

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    Further reading