Energy policy covers a wide array of issues, including energy exploration and transportation, public utility regulation, research into alternative fuel sources, and energy conservation. Since the nation’s security and prosperity are deeply affected by energy issues, a Cabinet-level department of the federal government oversees national energy policy and regulation. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is responsible for forming policies that address challenges related to energy and the environment as well as the safe use of nuclear energy.
The DOE was created under President Jimmy Carter in 1977 in response to the 1973-74 oil crisis brought on by the OPEC embargo. The new agency consolidated the responsibilities of several smaller agencies, including the Federal Energy Commission and the Federal Power Commission. The national energy economy and the safe use of nuclear power were major concerns in the early days of the agency.
Today, the DOE’s policy initiatives focus on science, technology, national security, international affairs and the global energy economy. Nuclear power is still a major concern, and the agency’s National Nuclear Security Administration External link has federal responsibility for the design, testing and production of all nuclear weapons used by branches of the U.S. Armed Forces as well as for overseeing naval reactor programs.
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Since the DOE is a Cabinet-level department, its policy focus is controlled by the presidential administration. Both the Bush and Obama administrations have placed an emphasis on reducing the nation’s dependence on foreign oil. This is being accomplished mainly through increased production of American oil. One of the biggest energy policy challenges facing the DOE is balancing the demand for an ever-increasing supply of low-cost fuels with the desire to develop cleaner alternative fuels, conserve public lands and protect the environment.
Despite growth in domestic oil production, the price of crude oil remains high because fuel is bought and sold on a world market. As seen in the 1970s, disruption in the global supply chain can cause a spike in the price of oil. The growing demand in developing markets like India and China means that the price of oil will continue to rise over the long term. Many believe that an energy policy that focuses on renewable energy sources like sunlight, wind and geothermal heat is the only way to realize true independence from fossil fuels.
While the DOE creates policies that address the energy challenges facing the nation, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regulates the delivery and use of electricity, natural gas and oil. This independent regulatory agency was established by Congress at the same time as the DOE. It is part of the DOE but acts independently to regulate the licensing and inspection of power plants and the transportation, transmission and sale of energy.
The DOE oversees 17 national labs where engineers and scientists work to develop new sources of clean energy and address the global climate crisis. The DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy External link is responsible for bringing energy-efficient products and buildings and new techniques for clean energy generation from lab to market. Bridging the gap between energy research and development and commercial deployment is a critical part of the DOE’s mission to employ novel technologies that support the use of renewable energy.
Energy Policy MPA Careers
The mission of the Department of Energy (DOE) is advancement of the nation’s energy security and protection from nuclear waste. MPA careers with DOE include exciting and challenging opportunities that make a difference in the lives of people in the United States and around the world. In addition to energy knowledge and experience, DOE executive positions require strong leadership skills. Although many senior executive positions in the DOE do not require a specific degree, a candidate’s educational background is considered during the interview process.
Job Title: Supervisory Policy Advisor
Estimated Salary: $123,758 to $155,500 per year
The supervisory policy advisor works in Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EREE) is a member of the Office of Weatherization and Intergovernmental Programs team. Responsibilities of the position include development and execution of a policy agenda that advances energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. The supervisory policy advisor also manages and guides a technical assistance team and serves as a recognized expert and advisor to EERE and DOE senior management. The position also requires management of relations with state and county government agencies, utility companies, trade associations and non-government organizations.
Job Title: Director, Division of Policy Development
Estimated Salary: $119,554 to $179,700 per year
The Division of Policy Development is an office with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), an agency of the Department of Energy. The FERC regulates interstate transmission of oil, electricity and natural gas. The director leads a division that develops energy policies that support the FERC’s regulatory responsibilities while building consensus with external and internal constituents. In addition to requiring the ability to frame policy arguments in a legally supportable manner, the position involves development of policy papers, strategic documents, rulemakings, testimonies and business plans. The position requires strong communication and leadership skills provided by an MPA degree as well as a detailed knowledge about FERC rules, regulations and decisions.
Job Title: Power Marketing Administration Lead Advisor
Estimated Salary: $119,554 to $179,700 per year
This lead advisor position within the Office of the Secretary of Energy includes responsibility for leadership on power marking administration issues. The position advises the secretary, deputy secretary and DOE officials. Development of strategic plans and setting and tracking performance targets for the organization are additional responsibilities. The lead advisor also provides leadership on national electric power goals set by the secretary and the president and represents the DOE in meetings with government officials, non-government organizations and the American public.