Department of Energy in the Trump Era. The Destruction of an Institution

The department of Energy was created in 1977 by Jimmy Carter to consolidate the nuclear regulatory commission and the energy research and development commission.

According to the DOE website, the department’s current mission is or is supposed to be “to ensure America’s security and prosperity by addressing its energy, environmental and nuclear challenges through transformative science and technology solutions.”

The last person to serve as Secretary was Ernest Moniz who was a nuclear physicist.  He is keenly expert in all things nuclear as well as all things related to renewable energy and their effects on our environment.  He served as Secretary from 2013-2017 until President Trump took over the Administration.  While he served, most American’s had no reason to believe that our country’s nuclear and energy programs were being overseen by someone who didn’t know what they were doing.

Up until this year, the DOE was very active in promoting and creating programs related to the development of renewable energy sources.  The government had also made a commitment to reduce our dependence on foreign sources of energy including oil and gas.

Today under Trump, we have a Secretary of Energy in Rick Perry who has absolutely no knowledge of how the department works.  His expertise with regard to science consists of a general knowledge of the relationship between the magnetic strip on his debit card and the card reader in the ATM.  During  a debate in the last campaign, he expressed his plan to dismantle the DOE.  Honestly, I don’t think he knew what he was talking about. I think he was just trying to say something dramatic.

Sarcasm aside, we are in big trouble when it comes to the management and development of our nuclear weapons programs.  We all know that The Trump administration has made defense a priority.  The plan is to update our defense arsenal including our nuclear weapons programs.  How would you like to represent the military and have to partner up with this new Department of Energy in order to accomodate the President’s vision?

My worry is that the President has appointed Perry less for what he can contribute, but more on how and where he was placed in order to serve as a loyal subject of Trump.  To me he was placed into the position so that our President can dictate policy to him and the department.  Incidentally, Rick Perry said in an interview with the hill in January, he thought he was being appointed to a position in where he would be a United States Ambassador representing gas and oil interests abroad.  So, this is the guy who is responsible for among other things, our nuclear arsenal.

Unfortunatley, I think that there is a good chance we are going to be faced with a catastrophic event and we won’t be able to execute a competent response.

When it comes to energy and its role in climate change, our government has recently denounced the very existence of negative climate change caused by humans.

Basically, we are supposed to believe that the President possesses some insight that the scientists don’t have.  He has even said that climate change is a scam propagated by the Chinese.  Like a lapdog, Perry buys into what Trump says then makes serious consequential changes to the department, excluding any program that is reflective of climate change or the effects of green house gasses.

As it stands now, the government has Censured the department and it’s staff in order to change the various basic terminology that refers to climate change.  Here is how they are supposed to talk about this very serious global issue:

USDA’s advice to staff on climate change language
Avoid → use instead
Climate change → weather extremes
Climate change adaptation → resilience to weather extremes/intense weather events: drought, heavy rain, spring ponding
Reduce greenhouse gases → build soil organic matter, increase nutrient use efficiency
Sequester carbon → build soil organic matter

One important and consequential responsibility of the department is to oversee and execute the proper cleanup of our country’s nuclear waste.

Where I live in Washington state there are two nuclear power plants.  One was never completed and the other is mostly decommissioned.

As a result of the discovery of a collapsed tunnel in 2017, the government proclaimed that the Hanford Nuclear site was the worst ongoing environmental disaster in the country.  Since then, Secretary Perry visited the site representing the interests of the people effected by the contamination.  He said very little and although he acknowledged the problem and promised a remedy, he has of now done nothing significant to address the problem.  I really don’t think he knows what to do.

At the end of the day, I believe that the leadership of our defense groups can partner and ensure that the nuclear weapons are properly managed.  The scary part is that we  still have one person in our country who has the ability, without consultation of congress to use our nuclear weapons anytime he sees fit

The one thing we need to do is to start reinvesting our country’s resources and expertise back into alternative energy.  We need to reestablish our commitment to produce energy that won’t destroy the very atmosphere that mankind will require to survive.

If we can’t, we should do what Perry wants and dismantle the department.  Maybe the President could replace the Department of Energy by signing the department of fossil fuel act.  In this case, If nothing else, we can prepare for the future.

The established structure of the Department of Energy includes responsible management and logical oversight of the country’s energy needs.  This would include the important relationships that the federal government has with the individual states and municipalities.  Today, effectively, all of this out the window.  Hopefuly common sense and the real needs of the public will prevail in the not to distant future.

As with other cabinet departments like the Department of Education,  these inequities will sooner or later effect our daily lives.  In some ways the Russian scandal is providing cover.  I just wish that the media that spends so much time on other, albeit important issues sets aside some time and exposes the shortcomings of other parts of our government.

The following is the organizational chart for the department.  See if you can fill in the nameless boxes with a person’s name.





I enjoy following and sharing my opinions on the social and political events of the day. I also have an interest in statistics, the environment and noteworthy people in general.

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