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Energy Policy and Conservation

Energy conservation refers to efforts made to reduce energy consumption in order to preserve resources for the future and reduce environmental pollution.  Conservation can be understood in two distinct senses.  In the first sense traditional conservation means the use of fewer nonrenewable natural resources.  The second sense in which conservation is used is to increase energy efficiencies, such as increased fuel efficiency for vehicles or in-home heating.  The National Energy Conservation Policy Act is directed towards conservation in both senses.

The Energy Policy and Conservation Act of 1975 was enacted for the purpose of serving the nation’s energy demands and promoting conservation methods when feasibly obtainable.

The Energy Policy and Conservation Act was amended[i] to:

  • grant specific authority to the President to fulfill obligations of the U.S. under the international energy program;
  • provide for the creation of a Strategic Petroleum Reserve capable of reducing the impact of severe energy supply interruptions;
  • conserve energy supplies through energy conservation programs, and the regulation of certain energy uses;
  • provide for improved energy efficiency of motor vehicles, major appliances, and certain other consumer products;
  • provide a means for verification of energy data to assure the reliability of energy data; and
  • conserve water by improving the water efficiency of certain plumbing products and appliances.


The Energy Policy Act of 1992 required the Secretary of Energy to conduct various programs to:

  • improve energy efficiencies;
  • increase the use of renewable energy;
  • reduce environmental impacts; and
  • foster economic growth.


The Energy Policy Act authorizes research and development programs for improving efficiency in energy-intensive industries and industrial processes[ii].

The Alternative Fuels Act of 1988 amended the Energy Policy and Conservation Act to pursue the use of alternative fuels.  The amendment encourages the development, production, and demonstration of alternative motor fuels and alternative-fuel vehicles.  Alternative fuel means any fuel not derived from petroleum.  Alternate fuel includes ethanol, methanol, natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, hydrogen, and electricity.

Additionally, the Energy Policy Act of 2005 contains a provision to reduce industrial energy intensity.  The Act requires the Secretary of Energy to conduct programs of energy efficiency research, development, demonstration, and commercial application.  The Act allocates funds for establishing and conducting energy efficient appliance rebates and pilot energy efficiency programs.  Additionally, the Act develops pilot programs for energy efficiency in low-income communities.

Another step to conserve energy was the ‘Conserve by Bicycling Program’.  Under this program, the Secretary of Transportation was directed to establish pilot projects designed to conserve energy resources by encouraging the use of bicycles in place of motor vehicles[iii].

The Secretary of Energy prescribes guidelines[iv] to:

  • encourage state energy conservation programs;
  • provide federal financial and technical assistance to support programs to promote the conservation of energy; and
  • reduce the rate of growth of energy demand.


[i] 42 USCS § 6201.

[ii] 42 USCS § 13456.

[iii] 42 USCS § 16103.

[iv] 42 USCS § 6322.

Inside Energy Policy and Conservation