While making his case during the Republican Presidential Primary debate in 2011, Rick Perry famously forgot the third government agency he pledged to eliminate if elected POTUS: the Department of Energy. Now, Perry is poised to lead that same government agency, despite his apparent confusion at what exactly the department does.
We hope that Perry has taken the past five years as an opportunity to review the many important jobs of the DOE, because although the Obama administration has invested more in the renewable energy-related work of the DOE, the Department’s work encompasses many different policy areas:
The National Nuclear Security Administration is a designated subset of the DOE responsible for keeping the nation’s nuclear resources secure. Established by President Truman in 1946, the Department of Energy also works with nuclear industry partners on a variety of issues, including cyber security for nuclear facilities and safety of nuclear reactors.
Even though the DOE actively promotes the use of renewable energy sources, it still oversees the production and development of public oil, coal, and natural gas. This includes maintenance of emergency petroleum reserves and the regulation of natural gas. Additionally, the DOE works to develop and innovate alternative sources of energy, like solar and wind.
The DOE also helps the United States remain an energy leader by encouraging research and development in science and technology. Some of this section encompasses renewable energy and climate change, but it also helps to develop existing technology further while pursuing cutting edge technologies that will keep the United States competitive in the global energy field. The DOE’s investment in carbon capture research and development demonstrates their commitment to ensuring that support of the fossil fuel industry does not come at the expense of the climate.
The DOD’s Skillbridge initiative enabled the creation of Solar Ready Vets—a DOE program that partners with the Solar Foundation to equip veterans with the training to enter into the rapidly-growing solar industry. This program prepares them for careers as solar photovoltaic (PV) system installers, sales representatives, system inspectors, and other solar-related occupations. With employment in the US solar industry increasing by 123% over the past six years, Solar Ready Vets and the Department of Energy expanded opportunities for “transitioning military” status holders to enter the workforce and transfer the disciplines developed during their service to civilian life.
The DOE’s role in national security is multi-faceted. The DOE is responsible for the management of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and works to protect privately-held nuclear facilities from cyber and physical threats. In addition, the DOE maintains the security and structural integrity of the country’s energy infrastructure, which includes tracking power outages nationwide and providing training tools and procedures for emergency response and preparedness.
The DOE partners with state and local governments to develop and install innovative clean energy technologies that improve the lives of people around the country. Recently, the DOE worked with Alaska to reduce energy use in remote communities. Engaging local lawmakers, eligible communities, and Native villages, the DOE was able to implement the Remote Alaskan Communities Energy Efficiency (RACEE) Competition in September 2016 that worked to accelerate efforts by local communities to invest in renewable energy strategies that will benefit them for years to come.
Source: Department of Energy Website (Energy.gov)