U.S. Department of Energy created to ensure nation’s energy security
In 1942, the U.S. was developing an atomic bomb in Los Alamos, N.M., under the guidance of the Army Corps of Engineers. At the end of World War II, the Atomic Energy Commission was created to supervise the development and application of the technology. The name was later changed to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, tasked to manage nuclear weapons, and energy development programs. However, with the advent of the 1973 energy crisis, the federal government recognized a need to consolidate energy policy, and on Aug. 4, 1977, President Jimmy Carter signed the Department of Energy (DOE) Organization Act. The DOE was created to govern policies regarding the nation's nuclear weapons program, naval reactor production, energy-related supervision, and domestic energy production.
The new Cabinet-level organization, consolidated the Federal Energy Administration, the Energy Research and Development Administration, and the Federal Power Commission into one cohesive agency. James Schlesinger, former Secretary of Defense during the Vietnam War, under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, was appointed as the first secretary. The DOE sponsors more research in the physical sciences than any other U.S. federal agency; the majority is conducted through its system of National Laboratories.
The DOE’s assignment has changed over the years, and its mission now includes ensuring America’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions. During 2013, the DOE had an annual budget of $30.6 billion and employed 106,400 federal and contract workers.
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