NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

No Focused Mission At Energy Department

March 18, 1996

Critics say the U.S. Department of Energy has abandoned its original goal of ensuring energy security and is riding off in all directions pursuing questionable objectives.

  • DOE has increased its budget 235 percent over the past 15 years while abandoning its original goal of energy security.
  • Fully 85 percent of its funds go for programs that have nothing to do with managing energy resources.
  • Vice President Al Gore's National Performance Review charged that the Department throws away as much as 40 percent of its budget for its Environmental Management Program.
  • The General Accounting Office said that the DOE "suffers from significant management problems...this agency is ripe for change."

Now Critics are confounded by Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary's foray on behalf of "victims" of federal radiation experiments conducted between the 1940s and the 1970s.

  • The Department has set aside $600,000 to publicize the "problem" and to encourage folks who may have played a part in the research to sue the government.
  • But studies and reports have not been able to document any ill effects from the program.
  • One scientist compared the effects of injecting a small trace of radioactive material to measure metabolic effects to the extra radiation experienced by a person during an hour's flight in a commercial jetliner at cruising altitude.
  • Another study, involving 26 participants in the Manhattan Project, revealed the subjects lived longer and had fewer cancers than average citizens.

In other words, not only will small amounts of radiation not kill you, they may even improve your health.

Yet the efforts to scare American citizens into filing suit against their government proceed -- and contribute to the Department's $21 billion annual budget.

Source: Tony Snow, "Department Wastes a Lot of Energy," USA Today, March 18, 1996.


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