The Department of Energy (DOE) is a government department in the U.S. for energy industry security issues relating to electric power generation and transmission, petroleum, and natural gas. DOE is responsible for the coordination of energy security issues among governmental agencies and the public. DOE serves the nation by developing innovations in the field of science and technology. It also ensures safety and security in the use of the nuclear weapons. DOE is responsible for the U.S. nuclear weapons program, energy related research, nuclear reactor production for the U.S. Navy, energy conservation, radioactive waste disposal, and domestic energy production. DOE is administered by the U.S. Secretary of Energy.
The Department of Energy Organization Act establishes different commissions and administrations within the DOE, including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the Energy Information Administration, and the Economic Regulatory Administration. In order to carry out the Department of Energy Organization Act, the Secretary of Energy and his/her authorized agents have the same powers as the Federal Trade Commission[i]. This includes the power to issue subpoenas. The federal courts have jurisdiction to enforce DOE subpoenas and the Department of Energy Organization Act does not give the federal courts any additional powers in this regard. Further, under the Department of Energy Organization Act, the DOE is charged to provide for, encourage, and assist public participation in the development and enforcement of national energy programs[ii].
It is to be noted that any person who is adversely affected by the implementation of any proposed rule, regulation, or order and desires an opportunity for an oral presentation of views, data, and arguments may submit material supporting the existence of such substantial issues or such impact[iii]. Further, the normal procedure with respect to notice, comment, and oral presentation prior to promulgation of a rule can be waived if the Secretary of Energy finds that strict compliance is likely to cause serious harm or injury to the public health, safety, or welfare[iv].
The Energy Information Administration is established within the DOE, headed by an administrator appointed by the President. It is responsible for a central, comprehensive, and unified energy data and information program. Information collected by the Energy Information Administration is cataloged and any such information is promptly made available to the public upon request[v].
DOE aims to reduce the dependence of the U.S. on foreign oil and developing energy efficient technologies for buildings, homes, transportation, power systems, and industry. DOE must mitigate the risks and hazards posed by the legacy of nuclear weapons production and research. It is to be noted that DOE must develop and manage a federal system for waste acceptance and transportation. It must also find means to dispose of spent nuclear fuel from commercial nuclear reactors and high level radioactive waste from national defense activities. Further, the DOE must identify and resolve environmental policy and radiation protection issues by developing environmental policies, standards, guidance to assist in discharging its environmental and public protection responsibilities.
It is to be noted that DOE has four overriding National Security priorities. They are to:
- insure the integrity and safety of the country’s nuclear weapons;
- promote international nuclear safety;
- advance nuclear non-proliferation; and, continuing to provide safe, efficient, and
- bring in effective nuclear power plants for the U.S. Navy.
The DOE works to preserve the integrity, reliability, availability, and confidentiality of important information while maintaining its information systems. Moreover, the DOE plays an integral part in nuclear nonproliferation, countering terrorism and responding to incidents involving weapons of mass destruction. Additionally, the DOE overviews the safety and health of the workers who work for the department.
[i] United States v. Iannone, 458 F. Supp. 41 (D.D.C. 1978).
[ii] 42 USCS § 7112.
[iii] 42 USCS § 7191(b).
[iv] 42 USCS § 7191(c)
[v] 42 USCS § 7135(g).