Who's in Charge of Energy Regulations in the U.S.?

Regulating the energy industry in America is not done by just one regulatory organization, but rather many different organizations that each focus on something specific. These organizations can either be created by federal law or be part of government agencies and provide varying levels of energy regulations. This article provides a brief introduction to the companies that oversee the energy regulations in the U.S. energy industry.

U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)

DOE was created in 1977 and has the broadest responsibilities in the energy regulations of power generation and electric suppliers and distribution at the federal level.

U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC)

The NRC was created by Congress in 1974. After the passing of the Energy Reorganization Act, NCR was to oversee the growing nuclear energy industry. The commission is led by five commissioners selected by the U.S. Senate and is in charge of regulating the creation of nuclear energy, as well as the use of nuclear materials. In addition to inspecting and licensing nuclear power plants and reactors, the commission also has the responsibility of regulating uranium mining and nuclear waste.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)

After the Federal Power Act of 1920, FERC was created. This organization oversees the electricity, oil, and natural gas industries. Some additional responsibilities include:
  • Reviewing electricity project proposals
  • Inspecting public and private sector electricity plants
  • Providing licenses for electricity plants
  • Regulating interstate wholesale electricity agreements
  • Monitoring the electricity markets
  • Enforcing regulations

Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSMRE)

Surface coal and related environmental affairs are regulated by the OSMRE. In 1977, the Surface Control and Mining Act created the bureau. A prime duty of OSMRE includes working with Americans to confirm land and water quality after a mining project has been completed.

National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

Founded more than 100 years ago, NIST promotes scientific innovation within areas including:
  • Nanotechnology
  • Computer Chips
  • Energy Production

Research is sponsored by the institute and it also recognizes achievements in areas it supports. It also focuses on sustainable energy development. Renewable energy sources are becoming increasingly available. In fact, about 10% of U.S. energy consumption was from renewable energy sources in 2015.

Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)

With offices in California, Alaska, and Louisiana, BOEM's main focus is environmental protection. The agency's responsibilities include management of oil and gas leases, environmental reviews, as well as additional renewable energy projects.
Another key responsibility is managing marine energy exploration and mining in Alaska, the Pacific regions, and the Gulf of Mexico.

All of these organizations work together in ensuring that all organizations in the United States are following regulations and working towards keeping the country productive yet safe.