Published July 1977 — Download PDF of the original newspaper column
Byrd's-Eye View By U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd Bringing Energy Into Focus Both the House of Representatives and the Senate have now passed legislation to create a new department of government: the Department of Energy. Following a conference to iron out minor differences in the two bills, and final approval by both House and Senate, the legislation will be ready for the President's signature, and the new Department will begin to function. This may be the single most important step taken this year in the effort to keep energy flowing to American industry a n d homes. By shifting the many federal programs concerned with research, development, production, and use of energy into one Department, with a single Cabinet-level Secretary, we shall have taken a giant step toward making these programs work more efficiently. Congress has worked for many years on programs to increase our energy supplies; however, no single agency, at present, has the authority to formulate and implement national energy policy. Information on fuel availability and consumption comes from 261 different energy data systems within government. There are three major energy agencies: the Energy Research and Development Administration; the Federal Energy Administration; and the Federal Power Commission. In addition, there are energy related programs located in the Interstate Commerce Commission, the Defense Department, the Interior Department, the Commerce Department, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development. By shifting various parts of the nation's energy effort into one department, it will be possible to better coordinate energy information, eliminate duplication of effort, and bring problems and solutions closer together. The speed with which Congress has moved to study this legislation, hold hearings, and move for passage, is indicative of the urgency of the nation's energy concerns. I have stated that energy legislation must be the first priority for Congressional action this year. The Energy Department which Congress and the President have worked together to develop will bring energy into focus, and will make the well-thought-out national energy policy we need a reality. This is the first step in meeting the major challenge which faces this nation in the remaining years of this century.