In the U.S., there are several regulations and programs that deal with the production, distribution, and use of energy, the development of alternative sources of energy, and the conservation of energy. Some of the important government agencies and commissions that regulate this area are as follows:
- Department of Energy[i];
- Federal Energy Regulatory Commission[ii];
- U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission[iii];
- Federal Power Act of 1920;
- Energy Policy Act;
- Atomic Energy Act.
The U.S. Department of Energy (“DOE”) is a government department concerned with policies of the U.S. relating to energy and safety. The mission of DOE is to advance the national, economic, and energy security of the U.S.; promote and devise scientific and technological innovation to attain its mission; and to ensure the environmental cleanup of the national nuclear weapons complex. The DOE works to preserve the integrity, reliability, availability, and confidentiality of important information while maintaining its information systems.
Similarly, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) is an independent agency in the U.S. that regulates the interstate transmission of electricity, natural gas, and oil. The FERC also reviews proposals to build liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminals and interstate natural gas pipelines as well as licensing hydropower projects. The regulations of the Commission can be found under Title 18 Chapter I of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). It may conduct investigations relating to any matter subject to its jurisdiction.
The Federal Power Act of 1920 encouraged the development of hydroelectric projects, such as dams and reservoirs. It created the Federal Power Commission (“FPC”) as the licensing authority for these plants. The FPC regulated the interstate activities of the electric power and natural gas industries, and coordinated national hydroelectric power activities.
Likewise, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (“NRC”) is an independent regulatory agency established to oversee the civilian use of nuclear power in the U.S. The main functions of NRC are to protect public health, safety and the environment; to issue license to persons and companies for building and operating nuclear reactors and other facilities and to own and use nuclear materials; to conduct the U.S. government research program on light water reactor safety; to make, implement rules and regulations, and to set standards for licensed nuclear activities; and to investigate nuclear incidents and allegations concerning any matter regulated by them.
Whereas, the Energy Policy Act of 2005, as an attempt to combat growing energy problems, changed U.S. energy policy by providing different types of tax incentives and loan guarantees for energy production. In order to foster the efficient use of energy and increased conservation, Congress established various federal programs such as energy and water savings measures in congressional buildings; energy savings performance contracts; federal building performance standards; and enhancing energy efficiency in management of federal lands.
Further, the Atomic Energy Act “(Act”) is the fundamental U.S. law on both the civilian and the military uses of nuclear materials. It covers the laws for the development and the regulation of the uses of nuclear materials and facilities in the U.S. Pursuant to the Act, each state and federal government is responsible for disposal of low level radioactive waste.
[i] 42 USCS § 7131.
[ii] 42 USCS § 7171.
[iii] 42 USCS § 5841-5853.