US Department of Energy

Company: US Department of Energy

Pres. Jimmy Carter, the Department of Energy Organization Act of 1977

Industry: Government


The establishment of the DOE was made official through Pres. Carter’s “the Department of Energy Organization Act” in 1977. However, the issue of energy regulation leading up to the department’s establishment dates from as far back as the Second World War, more specifically the founding of the Manhattan Project and the conceived need to develop an atomic bomb during that time. After the war, the debate went on about who will regulate the studies and usage of atomic energy which led to the establishment of the Atomic Energy Commission of 1946. From then on, the AEC was split into two agencies in the early 70s: the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Energy Research and Development Administration. The two agencies had the separate task of regulating the nuclear power industry and managing nuclear development programs, respectively. However, the Energy Crisis of 1973 made the US Government re-evaluate and unite the two agencies into a single functioning government agency. In October 1, 1977, the DOE officially started functioning.

The department’s main tasks are to overlook the energy security of the United States, promote innovations and to ensure that nuclear weapons do not have any adverse effect in the environment. Five strategic themes are upheld by the agency, namely: Energy Security, Nuclear Security, Scientific Discovery and Innovation, Environmental Responsibility and Management Excellence. It also overlooks the study, research and development of other sources of renewable energy and is also tasked with producing and testing of programs to develop energy efficient technologies.

Across the US, since its establishment more than three decades ago, the DOE operates research laboratories, power marketing administrations and an energy information administration while also spearheading the environmental clean-up resulted from various nuclear tests since the 1950s.
The DOE, now under the Obama administration, is currently headed by Administrator Steven Chu, a Chinese-American physicist and professor of Physics and molecular biology at the University of California, Berkley.


Steven Chu, Ph. D, 12th Secretary of Energy, sworn January 2009


Steven Chu won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1997 shared two other physicists for “the development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light.”

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