Energy Conservation:

An Expanding Program Needing More Direction

EMD-80-82: Published: Jul 24, 1980. Publicly Released: Jul 24, 1980.

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Since 1977, the administration has repeatedly emphasized the importance of conservation to a national energy policy. Department of Energy (DOE) officials have stressed that conservation is the administration's highest priority energy program. Congress has also recognized the need to move the Nation toward greater energy efficiency through the passage of three major pieces of energy conservation legislation. However, a lack of consistent, specific planning and direction from the Federal Government in the energy conservation area has limited the success of the Nation's efforts to conserve energy.

The establishment of energy conservation goals and the development of a comprehensive plan is urgently needed for DOE to provide the leadership required to move the Nation toward using energy more efficiently. Although the Department has indicated its agreement with previous GAO recommendations, the Nation still has no clear conservation goals or a comprehensive plan to meet those goals. The lack of such goals and a plan to meet them continues to convey the impression that the Federal Government is taking a leisurely approach to promoting conservation. The development of a comprehensive plan based on long-term goals would send a signal to the public that the Federal Government is seriously committed to energy conservation, and that Federal conservation efforts are a part of a well thought out cohesive national strategy rather than random activities.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Energy should use the National Energy Plan III process to develop a long-range national energy policy to provide a framework for the subsequent development of energy conservation goals; establish conservation goals which articulate conservation's contribution in the near, mid, and long-term toward satisfying domestic energy needs, reducing the level of oil imports, and providing for the incremental transition to renewable energy resources; develop a comprehensive national conservation plan which lays out the specific Federal actions required to achieve conservation goals and established milestones, and a system for monitoring progress toward meeting those goals; and spell out the leadership role of DOE for coordinating the actions of other Federal agencies and ensuring the success of the plan. In addition, the Secretary should consider establishing a Domestic Policy Review for energy conservation in order to establish overall goals and develop a meaningful plan.

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