The Department's Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) begins operations at the Glovebox Excavator Method (GEM) facility.
Secretary Abraham and Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky announce the formation of an ambitious new international effort to advance carbon capture and storage technology as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Secretary Abraham attends the signing of the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act by President Bush. The act authorizes funding for nanotechnology research and development over four years.
January 2, 2003
Los Alamos National Laboratory Director John Browne and Principal Deputy Director Joseph Salgado announce their resignations. Browne's resignation is "a mutual decision" by him and the University of California (UC), notes UC President Richard Atkinson. Laboratory senior manager George "Pete" Nanos becomes interim director. Secretary Abraham welcomes the sweeping management changes and calls for continued action to rectify the underlying problems at Los Alamos. "For sixty years, the scientists and engineers of Los Alamos have played a vital role in ensuring the security of the United States," the Secretary says. "It is crucial that we restore public confidence in the management of the laboratory so that they can continue to play that role. The nation needs the same confidence in the business management and security at Los Alamos as it has in the Laboratory's weapons design and basic science."
January 7, 2003
The Spent Nuclear Fuel Project at DOE's Hanford Site, located in eastern Washington, finishes moving more than two million pounds (957 metric tons) of highly radioactive spent fuel containing about 25 million curies of radioactivity out of the K Basins and further away from the Columbia River. The spent fuel is moved from underwater storage to dry storage in specially designed, vacuum-dried canisters, called multi-canister overpacks. The project is about at the halfway point of removing all the spent fuel-2,100 metric tons-from both the K-West and K-East basins by 2004.
January 8, 2003
Deputy Secretary of Energy Kyle McSlarrow launches a new management system that will move DOE from manual, paper-based management to automated, web-based management. The Integrated Management Navigation System (I-MANAGE) program is a cornerstone of the Department's efforts to achieve improved financial performance, integrated budget and performance, and expanded electronic government in support of President Bush's Management Agenda.
January 9, 2003
The Department's National Energy Technology Laboratory announces that a new lightweight, flexible drill pipe, engineered from space-age composites rather than steel, has passed an important field test and is being readied for its first commercial use. When used in the drilling of horizontal offshoots from existing vertical wells into oil- and gas-bearing formations that previously were deemed uneconomic, the flexible pipe can remain bent for extended periods of time without suffering fatigue damage.
January 12, 2003
Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) ministers meeting in Vienna agree to raise their crude production ceiling by 1.5 million barrels per day to 24.5 million barrels per day. Ministers said they anticipated that this would fill the supply shortfall created by the strike in OPEC-member Venezuela's oil sector. They added that they hoped prices would fall back within the cartel's $22-28 per barrel target range.
January 15, 2003
Secretary Abraham announces the first eight projects chosen by DOE in the initial phase of President Bush's Clean Coal Power Initiative. The projects, valued at more than $1.3 billion, are expected to help pioneer a new generation of innovative power plant technologies that could help meet the President's Clear Skies and Climate Change initiatives.
January 18, 2003
In a "virtual" groundbreaking ceremony in Portland, Oregon, DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and Oregon State University (OSU) mark the beginning of the new Microproducts Breakthrough Institute established by the two organizations. The research and educational center will develop and help market advances in the emerging field of microtechnology. Projects either underway or for future consideration include portable personal cooling systems, lapel-pin-sized biosensors to detect chemical and biological warfare agents, pen-sized chemical reactors for environmental applications, and small systems to produce hydrogen for fuel cells in automobiles. The institute will be centered at OSU.
January 21, 2003
The first U.S. contribution to the Large Hadron Collider is received at CERN, the European Particle Physics Laboratory in Geneva, Switzerland. The superconducting magnet, built at DOE's Brookhaven National Laboratory, is one of several advanced accelerator elements the U.S. will provide for the Collider under the terms of a 1998 agreement among CERN, DOE, and the National Science Foundation. The Collider is scheduled for startup in 2007.
January 22, 2003
The head of the International Energy Agency's emergency planning division, Klaus Jacoby, says the agency is prepared to call for the release of emergency petroleum reserves on short notice if a supply disruption occurs in the Middle East.
January 22, 2003
The Department's Bonneville Power Administration approves the first transmission line construction project under the agency's infrastructure expansion program to relieve congested transmission paths in the Pacific Northwest. The 84-mile Grand Coulee-Bell 500-kilovolt project will connect Spokane with Grand Coulee, Washington.
January 24, 2003
As a deep freeze impacts on many parts of the nation, Secretary Abraham announces that President Bush's 2004 Budget includes $288.2 million for DOE's Weatherization Assistance Program, an increase of $11.2 million above the President's fiscal year 2003 request. "As temperatures are falling to sub-zero levels," the Secretary remarks, "the funds for weatherization assistance are rising to help low income families across the country." By improving the energy efficiency in homes, the program will reduce the energy bills of approximately 126,000 low-income families nationwide in 2003.
January 28, 2003
In his State of the Union address, President Bush announces a $1.2 billion Hydrogen Fuel Initiative to reverse the nation's growing dependence on foreign oil by developing the technology needed for commercially viable hydrogen-powered fuel cells. "A single chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen," the President tells the nation "generates energy, which can be used to power a car -- producing only water, not exhaust fumes. With a new national commitment, our scientists and engineers will overcome obstacles to taking these cars from laboratory to showroom, so that the first car driven by a child born today could be powered by hydrogen, and pollution-free." The initiative will include $720 million in new funding over the next five years to develop the technologies and infrastructure to produce, store, and distribute hydrogen for use in fuel cell vehicles and electricity generation
January 30, 2003
In remarks to employees at DOE's Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory, Secretary Abraham announces President Bush's decision in favor of U.S. participation in negotiations on the construction and operation of the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), a major international magnetic fusion research project. The international cooperative effort will also involve Canada, the European Union, Japan, Russia, and possibly China. The mission of ITER is to demonstrate the scientific and technological feasibility of fusion energy. ITER will provide 500 megawatts of fusion power for 500 seconds or longer during each individual fusion experiment and will be the first fusion device to produce a burning plasma and to operate at a high power level for such long duration experiments. The construction cost for ITER, including buildings, hardware, installation and personnel, is estimated to be about $5 billion. The U.S. share of the costs is expected to be about 10 percent.
Top of page
February 1, 2003
The Space Shuttle Columbia breaks up over Texas upon reentry to the atmosphere.
February 3, 2003
Secretary Abraham releases the Department's Fiscal Year 2004 budget request to Congress, calling it a "good reflection on the Energy Department, its programs and its people." The $23.4 billion budget request, the Secretary states, demonstrates that "this Administration and Congress recognize the critical contribution our work on defense, energy security, the environment, and world-leading science and technology makes to a peaceful and prosperous future." The $23.4 billion request is an increase from the FY 2003 request of $21.9 billion. Of DOE's four "business lines," the National Nuclear Security Administration is $8.8 billion, up from $8 billion in 2003; Energy programs are $2.5 billion, an increase of $9 million from 2003; Environment is $8 billion, up $354 million from 2003; and the Office of Science is $3.3 billion, an increase of $64 million from 2003.
February 6, 2003
President Bush, Secretary Abraham, and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Todd Whitman tour hydrogen fuel cell technologies on display at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. "One of the greatest results of using hydrogen power," the President notes in a speech to those assembled, "will be energy independence for this nation. If we develop hydrogen power to its full potential, we can reduce our demand for oil by over 11 million barrels per day by the year 2040. That would be a fantastic legacy to leave for future generations of Americans."
February 6, 2003
The Department announces plans to establish an Office of Legacy Management to focus on the long-term care of legacy liabilities of former nuclear weapons production sites following environmental cleanup. Legacy liabilities stem from the activities of DOE and its predecessor agencies, particularly during World War II and the Cold War, and include radioactive chemical waste, environmental contamination, and hazardous materials at over 100 sites across the country. The Office of Legacy Management will be responsible for sites that have closed and are no longer supporting DOE's ongoing missions.
February 7, 2003
The Department's West Valley Demonstration Project in upstate New York completes processing liquid waste from its High-Level Waste Tank Farm. This accomplishment signals the end of Tank Farm waste processing at the site. In the next phase of operations-high-level waste tank lay-up-all the piping connections from the tanks will be isolated from adjoining systems.
February 7, 2003
The Savannah River Technology Center at DOE's Savannah River Site in South Carolina dispatches a three-person team to Hemphill, Texas, to help in the underwater search for debris from the Space Shuttle Columbia. The team uses three remotely operated submersible vehicles to record and transmit real-time video to searchers on the surface of the reservoir.
February 11, 2003
Secretary Abraham says that it will not release oil from DOE's Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to help alleviate high prices. "We've put a pretty high standard in place [for releasing SPR oil]," notes the Secretary, "because we really think that it should be only used in circumstances that truly involve serious supply disruptions that have broader connotations than some price fluctuations."
February 12, 2003
In a program at DOE headquarters, Secretary Abraham, on behalf of the Bush Administration, launches the President's "Climate VISION" (Voluntary Innovative Sector Initiatives: Opportunities Now)-a voluntary, public-private partnership to pursue cost-effective initiatives that will reduce the projected growth in American's greenhouse gas emissions. The Secretary is joined in the program by Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Christine Todd Whitman, Deputy Secretary of Transportation Michael Jackson, White House Council on Environmental Quality Chairman James Connaughton, and business and industry leaders.
February 13, 2003
Congress approves an omnibus appropriations bill for Fiscal Year 2003 that provides $20.9 billion for DOE. This is $8 million less than President Bush requested but $920 million more than the Department received in FY 2002. The bill includes a one-year renewal of the Price-Anderson Act's indemnification of nuclear power plant operators.
February 19, 2003
The Department's Sandia National Laboratories and the University of New Mexico sign an agreement creating a new Office for Policy, Security, and Technology at the university. The collaborative initiative seeks to nurture scholarly thought and research on policy issues linked to threats to national and international security, especially in areas where technology and security are interrelated, such as weapons of mass destruction, arms control and nonproliferation, terrorism and homeland security, environment, energy, critical infrastructures, borders, sustainable development, and region-specific issues such as water scarcity.
February 25, 2003
At a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing on DOE's Fiscal Year 2004 budget, Secretary Abraham states that the implementation of a "strong comprehensive energy national policy" would help lessen the impact of the repetitive cycle of high energy prices. While acknowledging that even with energy legislation price spikes would not go away completely, the Secretary asserts that "we need to take action so that we don't have a consistently repeating cycle of high prices for energy commodities, for energy prices."
February 25, 2003
The Department announces that it will expand its coverage under the Former Workers Program to offer medical screenings to all former workers who were exposed to hazardous or radioactive substances during their employment at DOE facilities at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Portsmouth, Ohio, and Paducah, Kentucky. The program was established in response to Section 3162 of the Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 1993 (Public Law 102-484), which directed the Department to develop a program of medical evaluation for current and former defense nuclear workers at risk for health problems due to exposures to hazardous or radioactive substances during employment.
February 27, 2003
Secretary Abraham and Under Secretary of State for Global Affairs Paula Dobriansky announce the formation of an ambitious new international effort to advance carbon capture and storage technology as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Secretary states that the U.S. will lead a $1 billion, 10-year public-private-international effort to construct the world's first fossil fuel, pollution-free power plant, known as "FutureGen." Designed by an industrial consortium, the plant will turn coal into a hydrogen-rich gas, rather than burning it directly. The hydrogen would be used to power a turbine or fuel cell to generate electricity or for possible use in a refinery to help upgrade petroleum products. Also announced are plans for creating the "Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum," which will bring together ministerial-level representatives to discuss the growing body of scientific research and emerging technologies for permanently isolating carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
Top of page
March 5, 2003
A report by the Democratic minority staff of the Senate's Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations accuses DOE of mismanagement of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve by adding to the reserve when prices were high and the market was tight. Deputy Secretary Kyle McSlarrow responds that the report "misunderstands the facts and the purpose of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve."
March 5, 2003
The State of Washington files a lawsuit in Federal court to stop the shipment of out-of-state transuranic waste to the Department's Hanford Site, arguing that DOE should have negotiated a schedule with the State by March 1 to clean up and remove buried and stored radioactive waste already at the nuclear weapons facility.
March 5, 2003
Secretary Abraham begins a 10-day international trip to promote the Bush Administration's Hydrogen Fuel Initiative and to meet with international energy officials to discuss energy security. The trip includes stops in Brussels, London, Vienna, Moscow, and Budapest.
March 11, 2003
Secretary Abraham co-hosts the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) conference on the Security of Radioactive Sources in Vienna, Austria. The conference goals are to raise international awareness about the dangers of radiological dispersal devices (RDD), or "dirty bombs"; seek a new level of international cooperation on RDD issues; and encourage nations to better identify, account for, and secure RDD-related material. More than 600 experts from 100 countries are in attendance.
March 12, 2003
Secretary Abraham and Russian Minister of Atomic Energy Aleksandr Rumyantsev sign agreements that will facilitate the shutdown of three Russian nuclear reactors. The reactors, which are the last three in Russia that produce plutonium for military purposes, also provide necessary heat and electricity to the "closed cities" of Seversk and Zheleznogorsk in Siberia. Under the agreement, the U.S. will provide support to the Russian Federation for replacement fossil energy plants.
March 19, 2003
The Senate votes to remove language in a budget resolution calling for oil and gas drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
March 19, 2003
The U.S. and its coalition partners initiate military operations against Iraq. The Department suspends transuranic waste shipments to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in response to terrorism concerns. The Department allows only those trucks en route to the New Mexico repository to continue.
March 20, 2003
Secretary Abraham issues a statement declaring that "world energy supplies are more than adequate to compensate for any disruption" caused by the hostilities in Iraq.
March 21, 2003
The Department releases oil production figures from the Energy Information Administration that, Secretary Abraham notes in a statement, "confirm that world oil production is consistent and steady." The Secretary adds that DOE continues to "closely monitor the world oil supply situation."
March 25, 2003
The National Transmission Technology Research Center is dedicated at DOE's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). The facility, a joint effort of ORNL, the Tennessee Valley Authority, and the 3M Company, will test a conductor that may lead to more efficient and reliable transmission of electricity and enable researchers to address the problem of power outages caused by sagging lines that result from the heat of high current loads.
March 26, 2003
The Department lifts its suspension of transuranic waste shipments to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.
March 31, 2003
The Department's Energy Information Administration reports that storage levels of natural gas are at record lows. Given the "narrow margin of surplus capacity," any sudden demand increase or drop in production could result in significant short-term price increases.
Top of page
April 8, 2003
At a meeting of the U.S./Russia Energy Working Group (EWG), co-chairs Deputy Secretary of Energy Kyle McSlarrow and Deputy Minister Oleg Gordeev, Ministry of Energy of the Russian Federation, sign a new Protocol on Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy as well as a Protocol on overall energy issues. President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin launched the EWG in their May 2002 meeting as a means to strengthen the overall relationship between the two countries, and enhance global energy security, international strategic stability, and regional cooperation.
April 8, 2003
In its summer gasoline outlook, DOE's Energy Information Administration states that retail gasoline price are projected to average $1.56 per gallon for regular gas. The projected price is 17 cents per gallon above 2002's summer average, but close to average summer prices in 2000 and 2001. The projected 2003 price falls well short of the real (adjusted for inflation) all-time summer high set in 1980 of $2.77 per gallon expressed in year 2003 dollars.
April 9, 2003
The Department files suit against the State of Washington's Department of Ecology. In doing so, the Department moves to protect its cleanup interests as governed by the Tri-Party Agreement and counters a lawsuit filed at the end of February challenging certain DOE shipments of material to Hanford that are likewise important to DOE's accelerated cleanup plans. "Recent actions by the State of Washington could have a chilling effect on cleanup operations at Hanford and elsewhere," notes Jessie Roberson, assistant secretary of environmental management. "We believe we can work with the state on this issue to an eventual agreement, but in light of Washington's actions, we felt we had to file this lawsuit to protect out interests."
April 11, 2003
Department officials, back from a trip to Alaska's North Slope, announce the forerunner of a new type of onshore drilling platform termed the "Arctic Platform" that dramatically reduces impact on fragile ecosystems. The Arctic Platform is a lightweight, 100-by-100-foot aluminum drilling platform elevated a dozen feet above the frozen tundra on specially designed steel legs. Its compact and modular design allows it to be safely transported by air or with ultra-low-impact vehicles called rolligons. "The Arctic Platform could be the industry's next major step toward the day," says Carl Michael Smith, assistant secretary for fossil energy, "when exploration and drilling would leave virtually no lasting trace on the surface."
April 11, 2003
The House passes a comprehensive energy bill by a 247-175 vote. The vote is a "terrific victory," notes Secretary Abraham, which "gives momentum to the goal we have of enacting an energy bill." Among the provisions of the bill are an electricity title concerning market manipulations and consumer protections and language opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas drilling.
April 14, 2003
Representatives of DOE and the National Institutes of Health announce the successful completion of the Human Genome Project more than two years ahead of schedule. The international effort to sequence the 3 billion DNA letters in the human genome, note project officials, "is considered by many to be one of the most ambitious scientific undertakings of all time, even compared to splitting the atom or going to the moon."
April 22, 2003
The Department's Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) announces that it has successfully made the first nuclear weapons "pit" in 14 years that meets specifications for use in the U.S. stockpile. The plutonium pit, called Qual-1 because it was built with and fully met qualified processes, is for the W88 warhead, which is carried on the Trident II D5 Submarine-Launched Cruise Missile, a cornerstone of the U.S. nuclear deterrent. A pit is the fissile core of a nuclear weapon's physics package. The six-year effort at LANL's plutonium processing facility restores a U.S. capability lost when DOE's Rocky Flats Plant shut down in 1989. DOE identified LANL as the site to make nuclear weapon pits through the 1996 Stockpile Stewardship and Management Environmental Impact Statement.
April 24, 2003
Secretary Abraham, during a visit to The Institute for Genomics Research (TIGR) in Rockville, Maryland, announces that the Institute for Biological Energy Alternatives (IBEA), an affiliate organization to TIGR headed by J. Craig Ventner, will receive $3 million per year for the next three years for research to better understand microbial communities and to develop new, biological methods to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and to produce hydrogen. TIGR will collaborate with IBEA on the work.
April 24, 2003
The Department's National Nuclear Security Administration announces plans to move forward with the fabrication of approximately 6.5 metric tons of surplus U.S. weapons-grade plutonium, previously intended for immobilization, into mixed oxide (MOX) fuel at DOE's Savannah River Site. The Decision is part of the Bush Administration's restructuring of the U.S. plutonium disposition program, which will dispose of 34 metric tons of surplus weapons-grade plutonium into MOX fuel for use in nuclear reactors.
April 24, 2003
The Department's Bonneville Power Administration begins construction of the Grand Coulee-Bell 500-kilovolt Transmission Line Project, an 84-mile-long line connecting Spokane with Grand Coulee, Washington.
April 26, 2003
Deputy Energy Secretary Kyle McSlarrow and Acting National Nuclear Security Administrator Linton Brooks deliver to Secretary Abraham a report on the future relationship between Los Alamos National Laboratory and the University of California recommending that the university continue to manage the laboratory through the end of the current contract in September 2005 but that DOE announce its intent to compete the contract when it expires.
April 28, 2003
In remarks at the International Energy Agency Ministerial meeting, Secretary Abraham calls for the development of international collaboration in advanced research and development that will support the deployment of hydrogen energy technologies. The Secretary's proposed International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy would establish cooperative and collaborative efforts in hydrogen production, storage, transport, and end-use technologies; common codes and standards for hydrogen fuel utilization; and the sharing of information necessary to develop hydrogen fueling infrastructure. The vision of the partnership, the Secretary notes, "is that a participating country's consumers will have the practical option of purchasing a competitively priced hydrogen power vehicle, and be able to refuel it near their homes and places of work, by 2020."
April 30, 2003
Secretary Abraham travels to Doha, Qatar, and Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to discuss international energy issues and promote international energy dialogue. While in Qatar, the Secretary tours the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), visits with the troops, and meets with two DOE employees detailed to CENTCOM in support of Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. The two are providing DOE expertise in oil and gas infrastructure and energy assurance issues and nuclear/radiological emergency response actions.
April 30, 2003
Secretary Abraham announces that DOE intends to compete the management and operations contract for its Los Alamos National Laboratory, currently held by the University of California, when the current contract expires in 2005. Although the university has taken "vigorous action" to correct the problems uncovered at the laboratory, the Secretary notes, "the university bears responsibility for the systemic management failures that came to light in 2002." The Secretary adds that the University of California will be eligible to compete for the new contract.
April 30, 2003
Secretary Abraham announces that DOE will compete and award separate contracts to implement its plan to revitalize the nuclear energy mission at its Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory complex and to accelerate the environmental cleanup of the site. The laboratory, which will be renamed the Idaho National Laboratory, will specialize in developing advanced nuclear energy technologies. DOE's goal for Idaho, the Secretary says, is "to have this lab emerge as one of the premier applied research and nuclear engineering institutions in the world, without losing focus on the cleanup work that needs to be completed."
Top of page
May 1, 2003
In a report on the international energy outlook, DOE's Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that worldwide consumption of commercial energy will grow by 58 percent over the next two and one-half decades. The EIA expects much of the growth to occur in the developing world, with China, India, and South Korea leading the way, as their consumption increasingly resembles that of the industrialized world.
May 7, 2003
At a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing, DOE's Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy David Garman states that the biggest technical challenge for President Bush's initiative to speed the development of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles involves the storage of hydrogen on board vehicles. "The physical nature of hydrogen makes it difficult to store without a lot of weight and bulk," notes Garman. "Weight and bulk are the enemy of automakers." Although the other major hurdles are bringing down the cost of producing hydrogen and lowering the cost of fuel cells and improving their durability, Garman observes, "I probably worry most about storage than any of the others. We're going to need a technology breakthrough." The current method of storing hydrogen is to compress it in a sturdy tank. The Department is looking at chemical hydrides and carbon nanotubes for storing hydrogen without high pressure.
May 8, 2003
Secretary Abraham announces the release of a $150 million solicitation for the Hydrogen Vehicle and Infrastructure Demonstration and Validation Project that will spur the development of both hydrogen vehicles and hydrogen infrastructure needed to support them. The project solicitation seeks proposals for 50/50 cost shared cooperative agreements between industry and DOE for the five-year project. Project teams will consist of an automobile manufacturer and an energy company in combination with hydrogen fuel cell manufacturers, small businesses, universities and state/ local governments.
May 8, 2003
The Department's Energy Information Administration drops its forecast for summer gasoline prices by 10 cents, to $1.46 per gallon. Secretary Abraham calls declining gasoline prices a "positive sign" for the economy. Retail gasoline prices have declined for seven weeks in a row since reaching a high in mid-March of $1.73 per gallon. Prices currently average $1.51 per gallon nationwide.
May 12, 2003
The Department's Argonne National Laboratory hosts emergency management officials from Federal, state, and local agencies during the Top Officials 2 (TopOff 2) nationwide exercise. The Argonne site is used because of its security as a Federal facility and its distance from downtown Chicago, Illinois, which is part of the exercise. TopOff 2 begins in Washington State with a simulated "dirty bomb," which goes off just south of downtown Seattle. Next is a simulated biological attach on the Chicago area.
May 13, 2003
In remarks at a meeting of the National Coal Council, Secretary Abraham asserts that the Bush Administration's proposals to advance carbon sequestration, nuclear power and hydrogen research and development "will have a more profound effect on global climate and emission advancements than any other initiatives on the planet."
May 13, 2003
A General Accounting Office report on DOE's efforts to recover and secure radioactive sources asserts that securing the sources is "not a priority" for the Department and "not even fully-funded."
May 14, 2003
In response to the GAO report on radioactive sources, the Department states that it has already recovered and secured, working together with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), which licenses radioactive sources 6000 radioactive sources to date, including 1600 sources in fiscal year 2003 alone. The program, the Department declares, "is fully funded to identify and recover all the sealed sources that the Department and the NRC have identified as priorities."
May 16, 2003
Secretary Abraham, on the second anniversary of President Bush's unveiling of his National Energy Policy, issues a statement highlighting the progress made in achieving the goals of the plan. "The National Energy Policy offered more than 100specific recommendations to increase domestic energy, diversify energy sources, modernize conservation efforts, and upgrade our national energy infrastructure," the Secretary observes. "We have begun developing and implementing a second wave of policy initiatives built upon the visionary principles outlined in our original plan. These include the President's FreedomCAR and Hydrogen Fuel Initiatives, Clean Coal Power Initiatives, and investments in carbon sequestration technologies."
May 16, 2003
Secretary Abraham administers the oath of office to Ambassador Linton F. Brooks to be administrator of DOE's National Nuclear Security Administration and under secretary of energy for nuclear security. Brooks has held both positions in an acting capacity since July 2002.
May 27, 2003
At a press conference with Russian Ambassador to the United States Yuri Ushakov, Secretary Abraham announces a $446 million National Nuclear Security Administration contract award to Washington Group International and Raytheon Technical Services to begin work to shutdown the last three remaining weapons-grade plutonium production reactors in Russia. Shutting down the three reactors, two located at Seversk and one at Zheleznogorsk, the Department says, will end the production of enough weapons-grade plutonium to produce approximately one nuclear weapon every day and a half. "The selection of the contractors is another significant step," the Secretary notes, "in advancing the Bush Administration's nonproliferation programs." The Department will work to replace the reactors with coal-fired heat and electricity plants.
May 30, 2003
In response to a new report about lower-level management's failure to report a potential security incident at DOE's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, National Nuclear Security Administrator Linton Brooks announces the dispatch of a team of senior managers to assess the management of security operations at the nuclear weapons laboratory. The team is to follow up on recent reports about security concerns at Livermore, make recommendations about necessary changes in operations, and assess whether NNSA should assume direct management of security at the laboratory. "Senior management at Lawrence Livermore and the University of California have responded aggressively to revelations about security problems," Brooks notes, "but I am disturbed by evidence that other managers in the chain of command have been lax in identifying and reporting potentially serious security problems."
May 30, 2003
The Justice Department joins a lawsuit brought by an environmental group against Lockheed Martin Energy Systems that alleges, in part, the company submitted false claims for millions of dollars in government funds while operating DOE's Paducah, Kentucky , gaseous diffusion plant from 1984 to 1998. "The government is declining to intervene in other allegations contained in the complaint," the Justice Department says, such as that Lockheed Martin Energy Systems "improperly exposed workers to radiation hazards and introduced radioactively contaminated metals into interstate commerce."
Top of page
June 2, 2003
The Department announces that a modified jet engine has been used to successfully fight a West Virginia mine fire that had been burning for nearly two months and was the cause of 300 employees being temporarily laid off when mine operations were idled. Positioned at the mouth of the one of the mineshafts, the jet engine was used to blow water vapor and inert gases into the mine to smother the fire by creating an inert environment underground. The Department and the National Institutes of Occupational Safety and Health provided a portion of the costs to test the innovative fire suppression system.
June 3, 2003
The Department announces the opening of a new Lexington, Kentucky, office established to implement environmental cleanup activities for the Portsmouth, Ohio, and Paducah, Kentucky, gaseous diffusion sites.
June 3, 2003
The Department's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announces that the National Ignition Facility (NIF) at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory produced 10.4 kiloJoules of ultraviolet laser light in a single laser beamline, setting a world record for laser performance. When completed in 2008, NIF will consist of 192 laser beams delivering ultraviolet laser light equivalent to 1.8 megaJoules to millimeter size targets. NIF will provide 50 times more energy than any other laser system and will be a cornerstone of NNSA's Stockpile Stewardship Program without underground nuclear testing.
June 10, 2003
The Department's Fernald Closure Project in Ohio hosts its final public tour of the Fernald site before it reaches safe closure in 2006. The former Feed Materials Production Center was the first link in a chain of government facilities that manufactured the atomic bomb, producing high-purity uranium for the nation's nuclear weapons complex. The site's mission shifted from uranium production to environmental restoration in the late 1980's.
June 16, 2003
In his keynote address to the European Commission's (EC) Conference of the High Level Group on Hydrogen and Fuel Cell (HLG-HFC) technologies in Brussels, Belgium, Secretary Abraham notes the emphasis that both the U.S. and the EC have placed in their respective hydrogen initiatives as well as their mutual cooperation and achievements in the area. "We believe our work on hydrogen and the work being done elsewhere around the world is perhaps the most significant game-changing endeavor the energy sector will see in our lifetimes," the Secretary asserts. "And working together with international partners, we can leverage scarce resources and advance the schedule for research, development, and deployment of hydrogen production, storage, transport, and end-use technologies." The EC established the HLG-HFC, composed of EC auto and transport companies, utilities research institutes, and policy makers, in 2002 to advance the development of the hydrogen economy.
June 20, 2003
President Bush and Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva agree to launch a broad, bilateral energy partnership. In support of the partnership, Secretary Abraham and Brazilian Mines and Energy Minister Dilma Rousseff sign a Memorandum of Understanding formally initiating energy cooperation. "This partnership will strengthen bilateral cooperation on energy modernization and new technologies for both countries, promoting economic growth and energy security," states the Secretary.
June 24, 2003
A General Accounting Office report, released at a hearing of the House Government Reform subcommittee on national security, documents shortcomings in the National Nuclear Security Administration's management of its safeguards and post-September 11 security program. NNSA, the GAO states, cannot be assured that its contractors are working to maximum advantage to protect critical facilities and materials from adversaries seeking to inflict damage.
June 24, 2003
Sandia National Laboratories President C. Paul Robinson announces management changes prompted by the findings of an independent investigation looking into allegations that some internal security investigations were impeded or the investigators were retaliated against.
June 24, 2003
Secretary Abraham directs NNSA to take immediate corrective action to overhaul security at DOE's national laboratories.
June 25, 2003
Secretary Abraham along with Energy Ministers and their representatives from around the globe today signed the first international charter in support of the Carbon Sequestration Leadership Forum (CSLF). The charter sets the framework for international cooperation in research and development for the separation, capture, transportation and storage of carbon as a means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
June 26, 2003
Secretary Abraham, in remarks opening the National Petroleum Council's Natural Gas Summit, notes that demand for natural gas has increased over the last decade to levels that are difficult to sustain under current supply and production constraints. "But this is not just about low reserves or supply and demand imbalances," the Secretary Abraham tells the Summit audience. "This is about real people and the real problems they confront when gas prices soar. It's about senior citizens, living on fixed incomes, being forced to choose between skyrocketing heating bills or some other of life's necessities." The Secretary adds that "our goal coming out of this summit is to take quick and decisive action where possible to diminish the immediate impact of lower-than-expected supplies of gas."
June 27, 2003
In a letter to all members of Congress following the Natural Gas Summit, Secretary Abraham calls for increased energy conservation to avert problems with gas supplies and prices later this year and through next winter. "Among the messages we received at the summit was that during the next six to18 months there are a limited number of opportunities to increase supply," the Secretary notes, "and, therefore, our focus must be on demand, with efforts to improve energy efficiency and conservation."
Top of page
July 1, 2003
Touring DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, Secretary Abraham encourages Americans to use energy efficient technologies and practices in their homes and businesses in the wake of rising natural gas prices this year. Demand for natural gas is expected to rise by as much as 50 percent over the next 25 years.
July 2, 2003
In letters to the Senate and House Armed Services committees, Secretary Abraham proposes the consolidation of DOE's counterintelligence activities under his office, three years after they were split between DOE and the agency's National Nuclear Security Administration. "In my opinion," the Secretary tells the committees, "the current bifurcation of counterintelligence elements has proven to be an impediment to coherent and effective counterintelligence activities necessary for the entire complex and, therefore, must be corrected." The change will require an act of Congress.
July 8, 2003
Secretary Abraham announces that he will invite countries that use liquefied natural gas (LNG) as an energy resource to attend a Global Liquefied Natural Gas Summit in the U.S. later this year to take a fresh look at the world's LNG resources and markets. The Summit will explore global natural gas resources, proposed LNG supply projects, and export and import terminal facilities, among other topics of relevance to the global LNG industry.
July 8, 2003
National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Administrator Linton Brooks announces an initiative to reinforce current safeguards and security oversight and strengthen long-term security operations in the nuclear weapons complex. "There have been a wealth of studies of security in the weapons complex over the years, including outside commissions, internal review teams and investigative reports by the Department of Energy's inspector general and the General Accounting Office, but it is clear that not all the good ideas have been implemented," Brooks notes. "I have directed a team to review the many recommendations and devise a plan for implementing any sound ideas that we have not yet undertaken." Brooks launches the initiative after consulting with Secretary Abraham, who endorsed the efforts to ensure improved security oversight.
July 8, 2003
The Department's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) successfully executes the first plutonium shot using the Joint Actinide Shock Physics Experimental Research (JASPER) gas gun at DOE's Nevada Test Site. LLNL scientists use the 100-foot, two-stage gas gun to fire a projectile at more than five kilometers per second at a plutonium target. The impact produces a high-pressure shock wave that passes through the plutonium in a fraction of a microsecond while diagnostic equipment measures the properties of the shocked plutonium. Shock physics experiments complement the ongoing subcritical experiment program at NTS as part of the National Nuclear Security Administration's stockpile stewardship program to maintain the safety and reliability of the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile in the absence of underground testing.
July 9, 2003
The Department, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the State of South Carolina sign a Memorandum of Agreement to accelerate cleanup at DOE's Savannah River Site for completion by 2025.
July 9, 2003
Secretary Abraham launches the Smart Energy Campaign to educate businesses, homeowners, and consumers on ways they can cut energy bills and curb their energy consumption to help the U.S. avoid a natural gas shortage over the next winter. The Secretary unveils DOE's updated Energysavers.gov website and announces that he will travel to Long Island City, New York; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Columbus, Ohio; and Milwaukee, Wisconsin, to spread the message of smart energy use around the country. In a letter to all fifty state governors, Secretary Abraham recommends actions the states can take to improve the natural gas situation, and he encourages the governors to join the Smart Energy Campaign. The Secretary also writes to state public utility commissioners offering suggested areas for state action to help ease the effects of a tightening natural gas market. These included programs to encourage consumer energy efficiency and demand, information and education campaigns on electric and gas conservation opportunities, more efficient power sources, infrastructure expansion, and public utility commission actions.
July 15, 2003
Secretary Abraham announces that drilling has begun on a 10,000-foot well to evaluate underground rock layers in New Haven, West Virginia, as part of a DOE carbon sequestration research project underway at the American Electric Power Mountaineer plant. The goal of the project, funded primarily by DOE's Office of Fossil Energy and managed by the National Energy Technology Laboratory, is to reduce carbon dioxide and other emissions believed to contribute to global climate change. "This project marks another step forward in our efforts to improve the environment while still making sensible use of coal, our most abundant energy source in the United States," the Secretary states. "Maximizing our ability to sequester carbon dioxide through environmentally safe and effective methods is a mainstay of our efforts to reduce our reliance on foreign fossil energy sources."
July 15, 2003
In his semi-annual monetary policy report to Congress, Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan states that high energy prices put economic growth at risk. "Oil prices, after dropping sharply in March on news that the Iraqi oil fields had been secured," Greenspan notes, "have climbed back above $30 per barrel as market expectations for a quick return of Iraqi production appear to have been overly optimistic given the current security situation. Also worrisome is the rise in natural gas prices. Natural gas accounts for a substantial portion of total unit energy costs of production among nonfinancial, non-energy-producing firms."
July 17, 2003
Secretary Abraham announces the selection of thirteen firms and educational institutions in twelve states to receive $75 million in cost-shared awards to fund new research in advanced fuel cell technology for vehicles, buildings, and other applications.
July 18, 2003
Secretary Abraham breaks ground on the Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences at the Oak Ridge National Lab, a $65 million dollar research and development facility dedicated to the study of nanoscale research. "Nanoscale research will, in many respects, represent the new building blocks for new technologies and applications across the science and industry spectrum," the Secretary notes. "Understanding the properties of materials on the tiniest scale will have an impact on everything from medicine to manufacturing," As a national user facility for nanoscale research, serving up to 300 scientists annually from universities, industries, and federal laboratories, the center will be the first of five Energy Department centers. The others will be located at the DOE's Argonne, Berkeley, Brookhaven, and Sandia/Los Alamos national laboratories.
July 18, 2003
Secretary Abraham participates in the DOE's first regional natural gas forum at Atlanta's Southface Energy Institute. The forum brings together representatives from consumer groups, industry and government for an open discussion on short-term solutions to the natural gas problem.
July 21, 2003
In a major milestone in the High Enriched Uranium (HEU) Blend Down Program, DOE's Savannah River Site makes the first shipment of low enriched uranium to Nuclear Fuel Services's plant in Erwin, Tennessee, where it will prepared for fabrication into a fuel for use in TVA's reactors. The HEU Blend Down Program takes HEU, a weapons-usable form of uranium, and blends it with natural uranium to make low enriched uranium, which cannot be used in weapons. "Today marks a big step in our nation's nonproliferation efforts," notes Secretary Abraham. "We have taken material that was left over from the Cold War and turned it into something that is unattractive for use in weapons. Not only that, but we've turned it into a material that has an important peacetime use, producing electricity."
July 21, 2003
As part of his efforts to examine both long- and short-term solution to the growing demand for natural gas, Secretary Abraham tours the Cove Point Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) terminal located in Maryland. Cove Point will become the nation's fourth and largest LNG terminal when it becomes operational later this year.
July 23, 2003
In a special ceremony at the White House, President Bush presents the prestigious Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civil honor, to Lawrence Livermore National Lab Director Emeritus Edward Teller. Teller's daughter Wendy accepts on her father's behalf. Teller, the President says, "helped to shape the course of human history," and played a "pivotal role in ending the Cold War." Over the course of his long career, Teller played an important role in the Manhattan Project, has been credited with being "the father of the Hydrogen bomb," and was central figure in the Reagan Administration's Strategic Defense Initiative. "Dr. Teller is a remarkable person," notes Secretary Abraham. "He is regarded as one of the giant figures of the 20th century, whose contributions to winning both World War II and the Cold War are immeasurable. But I also believe that Edward Teller should be regarded as one of the most important figures of the 21st century. His unwavering support for scientific education has inspired countless men and women to pursue lives in science."
July 24, 2003
Secretary Abraham and Secretary of Commerce Don Evans unveil the Bush Administration's strategic plan for the Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) on long-term global climate variability and change at a press conference. The strategic plan for the CCSP, a joint program that brings together the resources and expertise of thirteen federal agencies, describes a plan for developing knowledge of variability and change in climate and related environmental and human systems, and for encouraging the application of this knowledge. "This plan identifies four core approaches that will serve as the backbone to achieving its mission," notes Secretary Abraham. "Those areas are identified as science, observations, decision support and communications. By focusing in these specific areas we can focus on moving in new scientific directions, employing new research activities, filling critical data gaps through observations, developing operational tools for decision-makers and managers and communicating results across communities and across borders."
July 24, 2003
The Department's Los Alamos National Laboratory releases new color maps of the planet Mars, drawn from data collected by Los Alamos equipment aboard the Mars Odyssey spacecraft, which revealed the hydrogen content of the planet's surface. Described as "breathtaking," the color maps show the likely sites of water on Mars and showcase their association with geologic features like the Vallis Marineris, the largest canyon in the solar system.
July 28, 2003
Secretary Abraham announces that 234 small businesses in 34 states will receive DOE grants totaling $102 million to conduct innovative research. DOE chose 351 projects from among 1,450 proposals submitted under DOE's Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. DOE's Office of Science administers both programs.
July 31, 2003
Secretary Abraham announces the release of two solicitations for research and development in hydrogen production, delivery and storage technologies. These solicitations will provide funding of up to $200 million over four to five years to support President Bush's Hydrogen Fuel Initiative.
July 31, 2003
Unable to agree on comprehensive energy policy legislation crafted by the Republican majority and facing the August recess, the Senate reaches a bi-partisan agreement to re-pass, by a vote of 88-14, the Democratic bill passed by the Senate in 2002. "I promise you we will write many of this year's energy provisions into the bill at conference," notes Senator Pete Domenici (R-New Mexico) who will chair the conference committee. "We will do more for production. We will do more for energy diversity. We will do more for research. The final bill will look more like what I produced in committee this spring than it will the bill we are passing tonight. Tonight's bill is just a vehicle to get us to conference."
July 31, 2003
Meeting in Washington at the U.S.-hosted Earth Observation Summit, delegations from more than thirty countries agree to work cooperatively to establish a comprehensive and coordinated earth modeling system aimed at providing critical scientific data needed to address potential climate change challenges. "The information provided by the system will help in the formulation of sound, science-based environmental policies," notes Secretary Abraham.
Top of page
August 5, 2003
Following a meeting with Italian Minister of Productive Activities Antonio Marzano in Rome, Secretary Abraham announces Italy's intention to join the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy. Several other countries have also shown interest.
August 12, 2003
Secretary Abraham tours Daimler Chrysler's Nabern Fuel Cell Research Facility in Germany. "I'm pleased to visit Nabern, which is in the forefront with its cutting edge hydrogen fuel cell research technologies," the Secretary says. "I believe our work on hydrogen in the United States, Germany and elsewhere is perhaps the most significant endeavor the energy sector will see in our lifetimes. Working together, we can leverage scarce resources and advance the schedule for research and deployment of hydrogen technology." The U.S. has committed $1.7 billion for the first five years of a long-term research and development program for hydrogen, hydrogen infrastructure, fuel cells, and hybrid vehicle technologies. The European Union has committed up to 2 billion Euros to long-term research and development of renewable and hydrogen energy technologies.
August 12, 2003
The Department publishes a draft agency strategic plan in the Federal Register and asks for public comments. The document "charts the course for the next 25 years-focusing on the Department's technical capabilities to meet its needs and provide innovative solutions for the future."
August 13, 2003
Secretary Abraham announces that the DOE will provide over $17 million for 187 energy efficiency and renewable energy projects in 48 states, the District of Columbia, and one territory. Funding is provided through DOE's State Energy Program Special Projects competitive grants. The funds will be used to improve the energy efficiency of schools, homes and other buildings; promote energy-efficient industrial technologies; and support renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, geothermal and biomass.
August 13, 2003
Secretary Abraham and Dutch State Secretary of Finance Joop Wijn sign a cooperative agreement to work together in the war on terrorism by installing special equipment at Europe's busiest seaport, Rotterdam, to detect hidden shipments of nuclear and other radioactive material. "Terrorist groups and rogue nations trying to smuggle components for nuclear weapons is a serious threat that must be addressed," the Secretary says. "Installing sophisticated radiation-detection devices here, and at other key shipping centers around the world, is a major step forward in preventing the trafficking of these dangerous materials." The agreement is under DOE's Megaports Initiative, which is part of the U.S. "Second Line of Defense" program intended to identify and intercept illegal shipments of weapons materials.
August 14, 2003
Scientists of the Main Injector Neutrino Oscillation Search (MINOS) collaboration at DOE's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab) in Batavia, Illinois, announce the official start of data-taking with the project's 6,000 ton "far" detector. The MINOS detector, located deep in a historic iron mine in northern Minnesota, will be used to explore the phenomenon of neutrino mass. The far detector will "catch" neutrinos created at Fermilab's Main Injector accelerator. The neutrinos will travel 450 miles straight through the earth from Fermilab to the mine.
August 14, 2003
At 4:10 p.m. EDT, the largest power blackout in North American history sweeps through eight U.S. States-Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey-and the Province of Ontario, Canada, leaving up to 50 million people with no electricity. Power is not restored for 4 days in some parts of the U.S. Ontario suffers rolling blackouts for more than a week before full power is restored.
Emergency response teams at the federal, state, and local levels go into action immediately to assess the situation and provide assistance. DOE initiates its protocol for contingency situations and works with appropriate agencies, including the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, the Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and with the North American Electric Reliability Council to assess the situation. Deputy Secretary Kyle McSlarrow coordinates the effort.
At 11:42 p.m., Secretary Abraham signs an emergency order directing the New York and New England Independent System Operators to activate, if necessary, the Cross Sound Cable connecting Shoreham, Long Island, and New Haven, Connecticut, allowing power to flow between the two states. The cable was energized a short time thereafter. Within hours, it was delivering 300 MW of energy from Connecticut to Long Island and also providing valuable voltage support and stabilization services for the electric transmission systems in both New England and New York. Operation of the cable reportedly prevented rolling blackouts from occurring in New York in the hours immediately after electric service was restored.
August 15, 2003
Secretary Abraham advises individuals in the areas affected by the blackout to help ensure the stability of the system by reducing energy use as their electricity comes back on line. "Electric service is being restored this morning, adding to power that was restored last night," the Secretary notes. "Utility crews are working to restore the remaining service, to determine the cause of the outage and to take steps to ensure that such incidents do not occur in the future. While the power is being restored, we urge those who do have electricity in the affected areas to help the restoration process by conserving energy. Consumers should unplug major appliances until stable power is restored."
Secretary Abraham appears on major network and cable news shows in the days following the power outage to keep the American public informed.
August 15, 2003
President Bush announces that Secretary Abraham and Canadian Minister of Natural Resources Herb Dhaliwal will co-chair a joint U.S.-Canadian task force to investigate the causes of the August 14 power outage and to identify ways to prevent a recurrence. "Minister Dhaliwal and I will start working immediately to find out what caused this massive blackout and to keep it from happening it again," the Secretary says. "Reliable electric power is the lifeblood of the economy for both our countries. And it's more than just a personal convenience-it's essential to the health and safety of our citizens."
August 16, 2003
Secretary Abraham meets with New York Governor George Pataki and New Jersey Governor James McGreevy in Albany, New York, to discuss the power outage.
August 17, 2003
Secretary Abraham announces that DOE has dispatched teams of investigators to the Northeast and Upper Midwest to begin on-site investigations into the cause of the power outage. "Using my authority under the Energy Supply and Environmental Coordination Act and the Federal Energy Administration Act, DOE will immediately begin collecting information and interviewing appropriate individuals-at the utilities, the North American Electric Reliability Council, and the Independent Systems Operators," the Secretary says. "It is important that all parties preserve all relevant data so that it may be made available for review and inspection."
August 18, 2003
Secretary Abraham conducts two conference calls with energy company CEOs as well as the heads of the various independent system operators (ISOs) in blackout-affected areas to urge their cooperation with the DOE investigation. All parties pledge their assistance.
August 19, 2003
Secretary Abraham holds a press briefing on the power outages. He announces that the North American Electric Reliability Council, which administers voluntary standards for electric transmission reliability, has agreed to work with the task force and to forego its own investigation of the incident. The Secretary adds that he has spoken with both the House and Senate Energy Committee chairs-Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-Louisiana) and Senator Pete Domenici (R-New Mexico)-and that both chairmen are "very confident" that a comprehensive energy bill will pass and that mandatory reliability standards will be included in the final bill.
August 19, 2003
Secretary Abraham announces that DOE has completed a major cleanup milestone of its Rocky Flats weapons facility, located near Denver, Colorado, marking the departure of the final shipment of nuclear weapons-usable material from the site. "Rocky Flats helped the United States win the Cold War and it is no longer in the nuclear weapons business," the Secretary says. "Rocky Flats is on a path to close under budget. This removal of the weapons-usable material is a historic event, demonstrating what can be accomplished when DOE and its host communities work together."
August 20, 2003
Secretary Abraham and Canadian Minister of Natural Resources Herb Dhaliwal meet in Detroit, Michigan, and agree on an Outline to be followed by the Task Force in its investigation of the recent power outage that affected Canada and the U.S. The Outline calls for the Task Force to determine what happened, and why the power outage was not contained. The Task Force will be supported by three Working Groups that will address electric system, security, and nuclear issues. The Outline also calls for the development of recommendations on how to prevent future power outages. The Task Force will include as U.S. members Tom Ridge, Secretary of Homeland Security, Pat Wood, Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and Nils J. Diaz, Chairman of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. The Canadian members will be Deputy Prime Minister John Manley, Kenneth Vollman, Chairman of the National Energy Board, and Linda J. Keen, President and CEO of the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission.
August 20, 2003
The Department's Y-12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, breaks ground for a new $50 million special materials facility. The 10,000 square-foot facility will provide a purification process for the manufacturing of non-nuclear special materials needed to support future Y-12 Stockpile Life-Extension Program missions. Processes in the new facility will be housed in glove boxes, using state-of-the-art instrumentation and equipment.
August 22, 2003
President Bush, touring the Ice Harbor Lock and Dam on the Snake River in Burbank, Washington, states that the Pacific Northwest should preserve its hydroelectric capacity while continuing efforts to restore salmon populations. "The economy of this part of the world has relied upon the steady supply of hydropower. And we've got an energy problem in America," the President says. "We don't need to be breaching dams that are producing electricity."
August 26, 2003
Activist and community groups file a lawsuit in federal court to prevent DOE's Lawrence Livermore and Los Alamos national laboratories from building/operating bioresearch facilities that would handle live samples of deadly viruses until the laboratories conduct full-scale environmental impact statements.
August 27, 2003
Secretary Abraham and Canada's Minister of Natural Resources Herb Dhaliwal, as Co-Chairs of the U.S.-Canada Joint Task Force on the Power Outage, announce the membership of three Working Groups that will support the work of the Task Force. The Electric System Working group will be co-chaired by Alison Silverstein and David Meyer (U.S.) and Thomas Rusnov (Canada); the Security Working Group will be co-chaired by William J.S. Elliott (Canada) and Bob Liscouski (U.S.); and the Nuclear Working Group will be co-chaired by Linda J. Keen (Canada) and Nils Diaz (U.S.).
August 28, 2003
Declaring "an emergency continues to exist," Secretary Abraham extends indefinitely his August 14 order requiring activation of the Cross Sound Cable between Connecticut and New York's Long Island.
August 28, 2003
A DOE-commissioned study by the RAND Corporation reports that oil refiners expect that fuel supplies and prices will remain volatile as refineries produce fuels at near capacity levels in response to rising demand for petroleum products. RAND finds that refiners question their industry's ability to keep up. Many have called for greater regulatory flexibility, but "a few refiners are contemplating the potential for a significant easing of demand," perhaps as soon as 2010-2012.
Top of page
September 1, 2003
President Bush, in a high-profile Labor Day speech, calls on Congress to "stop politicking and get a good energy plan, so that we can make sure the economy continues to grow." The President tells his Richfield, Ohio, audience, that they learned firsthand what it means to . . . to modernize the electricity grid, if you know what I mean. The grid needs to be modernized. First, we need to find out-and will find out-what went wrong, why you had your electricity shut down out here. But we ought to use this as an opportunity to modernize the system. They used to have -- in the law they had -- they said these electricity deliverers could have voluntary reliability standards. We don't need voluntary reliability standards, we need mandatory reliability standards. We want to make sure there's incentives for people to put new poles in the ground and invest."
September 2, 2003
Secretary Abraham selects seven regional teams to help form the framework needed to develop carbon sequestration technologies and put them into action. The seven Regional Carbon Sequestration Partnerships include leaders from more than 140 organizations spanning 33 states, three American Indian nations, and two Canadian provinces. Recognizing the value of flexibility and the inadequacy of a "one size fits all" approach to carbon sequestration, each team will evaluate and promote the technologies and infrastructure best suited to its unique region. "Even as we focus our attention on other aspects of our energy security-including electrical power grids and crude oil supplies-the fact remains that we must continue finding ways to ensure that coal, our most abundant power source, remains a viable energy alternative," the Secretary says.
September 3, 2003
Secretary Abraham testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on the status of the joint U.S.-Canada Task Force investigating the August 14th power blackout. He tells the committee that the task force is looking at some 10,000 individual events in a 9-second span to determine what caused the outage. The Secretary also reports that DOE's Energy Information Administration will conduct an inquiry into recent increases in gasoline prices. Some increase in prices was expected because of higher demand due to the Labor Day holiday, the Secretary notes, but the run-up "struck me as unusually large."
September 4, 2003
President Bush, in a speech at the Kansas City convention center, outlines his Six Point Plan for the economy. The President's third point focuses on energy. "A growing economy depends on steady, affordable, reliable supplies of energy," the President notes. "And yet, as we've seen recently, businesses have had to cope with constant uncertainty-uncertainty because of shortages and energy price spikes or blackouts. It is hard to be able to plan for the future when you're worried about energy supply. And this is especially true for manufacturing companies, which use about a third of the nation's energy. And so we needed a comprehensive national energy plan, one that seeks to upgrade the electricity grid, that makes reliability standards by those who deliver electricity mandatory, not voluntary. We need to promote new technologies and alternative sources of energy. Someday we may just be growing our energy right here in the state of Missouri. But in the meantime, we've got to find more sources of energy here at home in an environmentally friendly way. I've been calling for Congress to pass a comprehensive energy plan for two years. For the sake of national security, for the sake of economic security, we need to be less reliant on foreign sources of energy."
September 4, 2003
In its biennial "report card" on the nation's infrastructure, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gives energy facilities a D+, with a downward long-term trend. Since 1990, the ASCE notes, national electricity capacity "has increased by only about 7,000 megawatts (MW) per year, an annual shortfall of 30%. More than 10,000 MW of capacity will have to be added each year until 2008 to keep up with the 1.8% annual growth in demand. The U.S. energy transmission infrastructure relies on older technology, raising questions of long-term reliability."
September 5, 2003
The Department of Agriculture and DOE announce the selection of 19 projects that will receive $23 million for biomass research, development, and demonstration projects. Biomass is organic matter that is available on a renewable or recurring basis. The joint grant program is part of the Bush Administration's effort to increase the nation's energy independence through the development of additional renewable energy resources from the agricultural and agroforestry sectors. "This Administration is committed to the development of a next-generation of biorefineries that serve the nation by producing cost-competitive biobased industrial products and transportation fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel," says Secretary Abraham.
September 8, 2003
The Department's Energy Information Administration (EIA), in its Short Term Energy Outlook, projects that crude oil prices "should remain near current levels of between $28 and $30 per barrel through December and gradually slide to roughly $26 per barrel after Iraqi oil exports return to near prewar levels in 2004." In the last few months, the EIA notes, natural gas "wellhead prices are estimated to have risen about 60-70 percent above last year." Gasoline price remained "relatively steady for much of July and the first week of August" but "during a recent three-week period, prices at the pump surged by over 20 cents per gallon." The EIA's August 25 gasoline price survey recorded a high for gasoline prices of $1.75 (U.S average regular, self service). "Several converging factors," the EIA observes, "contributed to this late summer price spike: tight supplies, heavy demand and a series of local supply disruptions, including the loss of electric power on August 14, which shut down several refineries in the Midwest . Not only did nominal retail gasoline prices hit record levels, but the 12 cents per gallon price rise (US average) between August 18th and August 25th was the largest weekly price increase since EIA began its weekly gasoline price survey. Pump prices should begin to recede this month, as many of the local supply problems have been alleviated and as the driving season winds down following the Labor Day weekend."
September 9, 2003
Director Emeritus Dr. Edward Teller, co-founder of DOE's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, dies at his home following a stroke he had suffered a few days prior to his death. He was 95 years old. "We are deeply saddened by the news of his death," Secretary Abraham says.
September 10, 2003
Secretary Abraham, in a letter to Senator Pete Domenici (R-New Mexico), provides the Bush Administration's view to the House and Senate conference committee on the comprehensive energy policy bill. The Secretary states that the "Administration is pleased that a majority of the provisions of the President's National Energy Policy are included in either the House or Senate version" of the bill. The Secretary "strongly urges" the conferees to "open a small portion of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) to environmentally responsible oil and gas exploration and development." The Secretary also calls for limitations on "numerous unnecessary, duplicative and costly research and development authorizations for appropriations that far exceed any contemplated levels of spending in future years."
September 10, 2003
The Department announces the award of $12.3 million to 21 broad-based, cost-shared research projects that will simultaneously advance energy efficiency and fossil energy technologies. The projects promote crosscutting systems in different research fields designed to be applied to both areas of science. "Addressing crosscutting science needs within DOE," Secretary Abraham notes, "maximizes the taxpayers' return on investment in key technology areas such as solid-state lighting, membranes that produce hydrogen, advanced fuels and chemicals, solid oxide fuel cells, as well as process sensors and controls."
September 10, 2003
Secretary Abraham presents Francis Collins and Aristides Patrinos with the Secretary's Gold Award for their leadership of the government's Human Genome Project. Francis Collins is the director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at the National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services. Ari Patrinos heads the Office of Biological and Environmental Research at the DOE's Office of Science. "These awards are in recognition of your vision and sustained leadership of the international human genome project, which culminated in the completion of the human DNA sequence in April 2003," the Secretary says. "This outstanding scientific and management accomplishment has opened the door to the biotechnology revolution that now offers such promise for human health, clean energy and a cleaner environment."
September 11, 2003
Senator Pete Domenici (R-New Mexico), chairman of the comprehensive energy policy bill conference committee, states that he and Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-Louisiana) will draft the bill and then release it to other members of Congress. This is necessary, Domenici notes, because the bill is "so big and voluminous," adding that "there is no reason" the bill should not be completed "in a month or five weeks." Democrats would not be part of the drafting process. "They'd like to be part of writing this," Domenici observes. "I started this process with the idea of getting a bill . . . and I don't see anyway we can just start meeting and go through [the bill line by line]. I believe we can derive a method with real opportunity for input and criticism." Senator Jeff Bingaman, (D-New Mexico), senior Democrat on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the author of the bill approved by the Senate July 31, calls Domenici's plan a "deeply flawed strategy" and a "marked departure" from past energy bill conferences.
September 15, 2003
On the first day of a four country tour to discuss energy issues and nuclear nonproliferation, Secretary Abraham addresses the 47th General Conference of the International Atomic energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, Austria. His remarks focus on nuclear non-proliferation and three areas where IAEA member states together can strengthen nonproliferation: safeguarding and physical protection of nuclear materials, preventing the trafficking of nuclear and radiological materials and technologies for weapons purposes, and improving the security of research reactors and facilities where nuclear and on-nuclear radiological material may be co-located. That same day, the Secretary and Republic of Korea Science and Technology Minister Park Ho-Koon, sign a bilateral agreement to conduct joint research and development on advanced proliferation resistant fuel cycle technologies.
September 16, 2003
Secretary Abraham and Chairman of the China Atomic Energy Authority Zhang Hua-zhu sign a Statement of Intent affirming their commitment to recent understandings reached by the two countries on the exchange of nonproliferation assurances required for exchanges of nuclear technology.
September 17, 2003
Secretary Abraham addresses European global climate policy experts at the American Academy in Berlin, Germany, outlining the Bush Administration's policies and goals for controlling the growth of greenhouse gas emissions and its efforts to develop new technologies to significantly reduce emissions of carbon dioxide from the transportation and energy sectors. The Secretary states that meaningful reductions in greenhouse gas emissions will be impossible without revolutionary new energy technologies being developed by U.S.-led research. Responding to criticism of the U.S. decision not to participate in the Kyoto Protocol, a treaty that American officials claim would hamper the U.S. economy while exempting large nations such as China and India from complying with greenhouse gas-reduction targets, the Secretary says "the United States is neither ashamed of its position on Kyoto nor indifferent to the challenges of climate change. The United States is investing billions of dollars to address these challenges." Nations seeking to cut emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases "face one hard and clear choice," the Secretary asserts. "Either dramatic greenhouse gas reductions will come at the expense of economic growth and improved living standards, or breakthrough energy technologies that change the game entirely will allow us to reduce emissions while, at the same time, we maintain economic growth and improve the world's standards of living."
September 19, 2003
In a Joint Steering Committee Meeting in Moscow, Russia, Secretary Abraham reaffirms his support to continue existing Nuclear Cities Initiative (NCI) projects to completion even though the government-to-government agreement expires on September 22, 2003. The NCI, a component of the DOE's nonproliferation program, transforms former Russian nuclear weapons facilities to commercial, non-defense uses. To demonstrate commitment to the long-term objectives of the program, the Secretary announces funding for a new project under the NCI program, the creation of a $9 million medical imaging center that will provide capability for cancer diagnostics in the closed Russian city of Snezhinsk. "I am proud of NCI's accomplishments," the Secretary states, "and recognize that it serves a vital nonproliferation goal by assisting in the transition of Russian nuclear scientists and engineers to non-defense, commercial efforts."
September 21, 2003
Secretary Abraham and Secretary of Commerce Don Evans meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin at his residence outside Moscow. Discussions focus on bilateral energy projects and the upcoming Second U.S.-Russia Commercial Energy Summit.
September 22, 2003
Secretary Abraham announces that the previous day, September 21, 14 kilograms of fresh Russian-origin highly enriched uranium (HEU) were returned from Romania to the Russian Federation under the DOE-funded Russian Research Reactor Fuel Return (RRRFR) Initiative. The HEU was airlifted from Bucharest, Romania, to Russia where it will be down-blended and used for nuclear power plant fuel fabrication. The shipment is part of a U.S.-led cooperative international effort to reduce, and if possible eliminate, the use in and storage of highly enriched uranium in civil nuclear activities. "The RRRFR program exemplifies the strength of the U.S. and the Russian Federation partnership to reduce the threat of terrorism and prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction," states the Secretary.
September 22, 2003
Secretary Abraham and Russian Minister of Energy Igor Yusufov join Secretary of Commerce Don Evans and Russian Minister of Economic Development and Trade German Gref, to open the Second U.S.-Russia Commercial Energy Summit in St. Petersburg. Topics of discussion include the development of an oil pipeline in Murmansk and large Russian liquefied natural gas projects. During the summit, the Secretary and Minister Yusufov meet to discuss energy issues and sign an oil response protocol that formalizes and implements the oil spill prevention and response agreement developed by both countries.
September 22, 2003
Secretary Abraham commends the Senate, in a letter to Senators Pete Domenici (R-New Mexico) and John Warner (R-Virginia) for keeping the President's nuclear weapons initiatives in the 2004 Energy and Water Appropriations Bill. Domenici and Warner led the effort in rejecting amendments that would have struck $21 million form the bill for studies of the Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator, also known as the "bunker buster" bomb, and other weapons activities. "By funding advanced concepts," the Secretary notes," you allow us to undertake limited research into options for transforming the stockpile to meet the needs of the post-Cold War world. By funding test readiness, you allow us to be in a position to respond if we discover a need to correct major problems in an existing weapon crucial to our deterrent. And by funding the continued examination of options for a Modern Pit Facility, you help us prepare for the day when aging requires us to remanufacture existing pits to ensure weapon effectiveness."
September 24, 2003
Construction begins to fix the notorious Path 15 transmission bottleneck in California. "I'm pleased that construction work on this important project has started," Secretary Abraham says. "The recent Northeast blackouts emphasize the need for investment to improve the nation's electric transmission infrastructure." The project will add 1,500 megawatts of transmission capacity between the northern and southern California.
September 25, 2003
Secretary Abraham announces that researchers at DOE laboratories and companies with research funded by DOE have won 35 of the 100 awards given this year by R&D Magazine for the most outstanding technology developments with commercial potential. The award-winning projects include: a carbon-based coating harder and slicker than Teflon; a miniature, infrared camera that can be used for night vision and medical imaging and to help firefighters see through smoke; a handheld tool that uses ultrasound pulses to assay the contents of sealed containers; and an adaptive optics system that combines technologies from astronomy and micromachining to advance the study and treatment of retinal diseases.
September 25, 2003
The National Petroleum Council (NPC) submits to Secretary Abraham its multi-volume report on natural gas, Balancing Natural Gas Policy - Fueling the Demands of a Growing Economy. The Secretary requested the report to provide insights on energy market dynamics as well as advice on actions that can be taken by industry and government to ensure adequate and reliable supplies of energy. The NPC finds that government policies encourage the use of natural gas but fail to address the need for additional natural gas supplies.
September 30, 2003
In remarks at a ceremony marking the Chicago Climate Exchange's (CCX) first auction of carbon dioxide emission allowances, Secretary Abraham describes the voluntary market-based program as "precisely the kind of private sector initiative that the Bush Administration has been calling for in response to the climate change challenge." CCX's sale of 100,000 metric tons worth of carbon dioxide emission allowances involves the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Brazil.
September 30, 2003
Secretary Abraham announces that a new accelerated environmental cleanup contract has been finalized with Bechtel Jacobs Company LLC for work at sites in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. The $1.8 billion five-year cost plus incentive fee contract is effective October 1, 2003. "This will allow us to have high-risk cleanup work in Oak Ridge completed by 2008," the Secretary says.
Top of page
October 1, 2003
Secretary Abraham says he remains hopeful Congress will pass an energy bill containing a provision allowing drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). The Secretary does not comment on whether the President would veto a bill that did not include ANWR drilling but notes that "there has never been on any issue, to my knowledge, a veto threat referenced." The chairman of the energy bill conference committee, Senator Pete Domenici, (R-New Mexico), had set October 1 as the deadline for completing work on the measure, but that date is missed due to controversy over select electricity, ethanol, and tax provisions.
October 3, 2003
The Department announces the dedication of a facility that will pioneer a new generation of ultra-clean transportation fuels to significantly reduce tailpipe emissions from cars, trucks and buses. Designed and constructed under the Ultra-Clean Fuels Program, managed by DOE's National Energy Technology Laboratory, the newly constructed natural gas-to-liquids demonstration facility near Tulsa, Oklahoma, is scheduled to begin production in early November. The facility will produce approximately 4,000 gallons of high-performance, sulfur free, environmentally-friendly transportation fuel per day from 1 million cubic feet of natural gas. "This is a perfect illustration of how government and industry can work together to develop new technologies to meet the Nation's environmental objectives," says Secretary Abraham.
October 7, 2003
Alexei A. Abrikosov of DOE's Argonne National Laboratory is awarded the 2003 Nobel Prize in Physics. He shares the award with Vitaly L. Ginzburg of the P.N. Lebedev Physical Institute in Moscow and Anthony J. Leggett of the University of Illinois, Urbana. "The pioneering scientists' contributions to the theory of superconductors and superfluids have yielded deep understanding of physical phenomenon that were once both mysterious and perplexing to the scientific community," notes Secretary Abraham. "Through their efforts, tremendous strides are being made in understanding these processes, leading to the development of new superconducting materials and technologies that have great promise to benefit the entire world."
October 9, 2003
The Department awards a contract to Isotek Systems, LLC, in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, to down blend enriched uranium-233 and extract isotopes that show great promise in the treatment of deadly cancers. The contract's total estimated cost is approximately $128 million dollars over an estimated nine-year period. "DOE has an important responsibility to clean up the legacies from the Cold War," Secretary Abraham states. "That we can fulfill this mission while producing valuable new tools in the fight against cancer is an exciting and unique opportunity."
October 15, 2003
The Department announces the selection of 13 projects to make America's commercial and residential buildings more energy efficient. DOE's investment of $20.4 million will be combined with over $10 million being contributed by industry partners. The projects, to be completed within three years, will introduce new technologies to reduce costs, lower emissions and save energy by improving today's lighting systems, air heating and cooling equipment, windows, water heaters, appliances and other building components. "These new technologies will save enormous amounts of energy in homes and commercial buildings," Secretary Abraham says. "The projects cover nearly the full range of building construction: lighting sources, air conditioners and ventilation systems, windows-and even everyday household appliances."
October 16, 2003
Following a meeting with Minister of Natural Resources Canada Herb Dhaliwal, Secretary Abraham announces Canada's support for the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy. "We are pleased to learn of Canada's decision to support the partnership for hydrogen and fuel cell technology research, development and demonstration activities," the Secretary says. "International cooperation is key to achieving the hydrogen and fuel cell program goals outlined by President Bush."
October 22, 2003
Secretary Abraham presents the Enrico Fermi Award to Drs. John Bahcall, Raymond Davis, Jr., and Seymour Sack. The Fermi award is a presidential award, one of the Federal Government's oldest and most prestigious science and technology honors administered by the DOE, and recognizes scientists of international stature for their lifetimes of exceptional achievement in the development, use or production of energy. Bahcall and Davis receive the award for their research in neutrino physics. They are the scientists most responsible for the field of solar neutrino physics and neutrino astronomy. Sack is recognized for his contributions to national security. Over a 35-year career at DOE's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Sack became on of the foremost designers of nuclear weapons. His design concepts are found in all stockpile weapons. Sack's design programs introduced insensitive high explosives, fire-resistant plutonium pits, and other state-of-the-art nuclear safety concepts.
October 22, 2003
The Department announces that William D. Magwood, IV, director of DOE's Office of Nuclear Energy, Science and Technology, was elected Chairman of the Steering Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development's (OECD) Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA). The Steering Committee is the governing body of the NEA. This is only the second time in the 47-year history of the agency that a U.S. official has held the top position. "Last week's election at the NEA to install a U.S. head, signals the revival of U.S. leadership in worldwide nuclear energy policy," Secretary Abraham says.
October 22, 2003
FuelCell Energy of Danbury, Connecticut , begins operating the world's first fuel cell powered by coal mine methane. Funded by the DOE, the demonstration harnesses the power of a greenhouse gas pollutant-methane emissions from coal mines-to produce electricity in a new, 21st Century fuel cell. "We believe this technology can reduce coal mine methane emissions significantly while producing clean, efficient, and reliable high-quality power," Secretary Abraham states. "This has the dual benefit of reducing greenhouse gases while supporting our energy security by generating power from readily available domestic fuels."
October 24, 2003
Senator Pete Domenici (R-New Mexico), chairman of the energy bill conference committee, cancels a committee meeting to approve a final bill because of a lack of agreement on a multibillion-dollar package of tax incentives. Domenici says agreement could not be reached on three provisions: reforming how ethanol producers are taxed and how the tax would support the Highway Trust Fund, using tax credits to encourage alternative energy production, and changing tax laws to encourage the construction of new clean coal power plants and upgrades to existing coal plants. Domenici also notes that the House is "insisting" that the conference report give producers of the gasoline additive MTBE immunity from future liability and adopt "a number of proposals to amend the Clean Air Act."
October 24, 2003
The Department announces that it has reached an agreement with the State of Washington on the retrieval, storage, and processing of mixed waste at the Hanford Site. The agreement comes after several months of negotiations.
October 27, 2003
The Department begins retrieval of transuranic waste from the low-level burial grounds at Hanford, beating by weeks the first deadline under the October 24 waste cleanup agreement reached with the State of Washington. Workers will retrieve about 38,000 containers (76,000 drum equivalents) in various shapes and stages of integrity. Crews will inspect the containers and characterize their contents to determine final disposition. Transuranic waste will ultimately be shipped to DOE's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) in New Mexico for disposal; low level and mixed low-level waste will be disposed of in appropriate facilities at Hanford.
October 28, 2003
The Department launches an effort to introduce science students across the country to the promise of hydrogen and fuel cell technology. Students of all ages will be introduced to the basic concepts and principles of hydrogen-based energy in fun and creative ways to interest them in the vision of a hydrogen economy.
October 29, 2003
The Department announces the removal of the last unit of spent nuclear fuel from the Savannah River Site's Receiving Basin for Offsite Fuels (RBOF). All of the fuel was moved from the 40 year old underwater storage basin and placed in safer interim storage in preparation for RBOF's closure. "I am pleased to see the change in landscape of how legacy waste and materials are now handled so that future generations will not be unduly burdened with the hazards and costs of winning the Cold War," Secretary Abraham says.
October 29, 2003
Secretary Abraham meets with California Governor-Elect Arnold Schwarzenegger.
October 30, 2003
President Bush, in a speech at the Central Aluminum Company in Columbus, Ohio, calls on Congress to "resolve your differences" on energy legislation and "get the bill done." Secretary Abraham meets with Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tennessee), and they agree that the energy bill needed to be completed this year. The Secretary calls the "next few days critical" and stresses that the administration's goal is "just to see where we can be helpful and how we can assist this over the finish line" and not to decide issues for Congress. "We're not going to try to dictate terms to these members about when specifically they have to be done," the Secretary says. "We know and appreciate the balancing that has to go on." He adds that "It would be much harder to come back and start all over again, or even start at the point they're at after the holiday recess." The Secretary also meets, individually, with Senator Pete Domenici (R-New Mexico) and Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-Louisiana), leaders of the conference committee.
October 31, 2003
The Department's Office of Environmental Management reorganizes with the intent of providing greater clarity in the roles and responsibilities of both headquarters and field offices and better performance integration and less redundant levels of oversight. The reorganization significantly flattens the layers of supervision within headquarters, from a 1:5 supervisor staff ratio in January of 2002 to a 1:13 ratio.
Top of page
November 3, 2003
Administrator Linton Brooks of DOE's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) announces the establishment of the Nuclear Radiological Threat Reduction Task Force (NRTRTF). Formed to combat the threats posed by radiological dispersion devices or "dirty bombs," the NRTRTF has two primary missions: 1) to identify, secure and store on an interim basis high-risk radiological materials that could be used as a radiological dispersal device, both in the United States and overseas, in cooperation with foreign governments; and 2) to establish an inventory of the most vulnerable research reactors worldwide and develop an action plan to effectively meet and mitigate these vulnerabilities. "This threat reduction task force will bring together, under one organization, all of the Department of Energy's radiological threat reduction efforts both domestically and abroad to ensure much greater effectiveness in meeting radiological threats," Brooks says. "This task force shows Secretary Abraham's commitment to meeting the threat posed by nuclear and radiological terrorism on a global basis."
November 3, 2003
Secretary Abraham announces the appointment of William F. Martin to lead DOE's Nuclear Energy Research Advisory Committee (NERAC), an independent panel that provides advice on the direction of the Department's nuclear program. Martin served as Deputy Secretary of Energy and Executive Secretary of the National Security Council under President Reagan.
November 4, 2003
The International Energy Agency (IEA) in a major new study, World Energy Investment Outlook, projects that an investment of $16 trillion will be needed between 2001 and 2030 in world energy supply infrastructure to meet expected demand. The electricity sector accounts for almost $10 trillion, or 60% of the total, with the oil and gas sectors requiring more than $3 trillion each. "Without new policy actions," IEA Executive Director Claude Mandil notes, "world energy demand will rise by two-thirds between now and 2030, and the world economy will falter if these energy supplies are not made available."
November 5, 2003
Secretary Abraham and Russian Atomic Energy Minister Aleksandr Rumyantsev announce the first joint venture project between a U.S. company and a Russian company founded in a closed nuclear city. The groundbreaking project, which furthers the nonproliferation efforts of DOE's Russian Transition Initiatives (RTI) program, will employ former Russian nuclear scientists to manufacture medical components, equipment and devices. The joint venture between Numotech, Inc., a Northridge, California medical devices company, and Spektr-Conversion, LLC, a Russian entrepreneurial start-up, will make life-changing medical products available to millions of people worldwide. The announcement is made at the DOE-sponsored Partnerships for Prosperity and Security Exhibition and Conference in Philadelphia, where Russian high-level technology is on display.
November 5, 2003
Secretary Abraham and Russian Atomic Energy Minister Aleksandr Rumyantsev address the United Nations First Committee on Disarmament and International Security in New York. The two leaders outline progress that the U.S. and Russia have made in reducing the spread of weapons of mass destruction and ways that "all responsible nations" can overcome present challenges, including those arising from Iran and North Korea.
November 5, 2003
Secretary Abraham announces the DOE selection of 32 new projects to improve energy efficiency in U.S. industry. DOE will invest $61 million over the duration of the projects, while industrial partners will put in more than $54 million for a cost-shared investment worth a total of $115 million over the next three years. Two dozen of these projects will pursue collaborative research, development, and demonstration of new, energy-efficiency technologies; eight will identify opportunities to boost energy efficiency and productivity in industrial plants using technologies and practices available today. "These technologies will improve productivity, save energy and reduce environmental impacts in many energy-intensive industries in the nation today," the Secretary says.
November 6, 2003
The DOE activates a major E-government initiative that will streamline the federal government's process for authorizing imports and exports of natural gas. Beginning this month, prospective importers and exporters of natural gas can request statutorily-required federal authorizations using a new "E-filing" system available on DOE's fossil energy web site. Natural gas imports, the Secretary notes, are "growing and by improving digital communications between government and the natural gas industry, we can streamline the approval process for getting these gas supplies into our market and to consumers."
November 7, 2003
Secretary Abraham and Russian Atomic Energy Minister Aleksandr Rumyantsev sign a joint statement to repatriate Russian-origin high-enriched uranium (HEU) research reactor fuel to Russia. The Joint Statement, the Secretary says in his remarks, "reaffirms our common objective of reducing, and to the extent possible, ultimately eliminating the use of highly enriched uranium in civil nuclear activity."
November 10, 2003
In a speech at the National Press Club, Secretary Abraham outlines the DOE's Office of Science 20-year science facility plan, a roadmap for future scientific facilities to support the Department's basic science and research missions. The plan identifies 12 facilities as near-term priorities. Priority one is ITER, an international collaboration to build the first fusion science experiment capable of producing a self-sustaining fusion reaction. Priority two is an UltraScale Scientific Computing Capability, to be located at multiple sites, which would increase by a factor of 100 the computing capability available to support open scientific research. Four facilities tied for Priority three: the Joint Dark Energy Mission, a space-based probe, being considered in partnership with NASA, designed to understand "dark energy" which makes up more than 70 percent of the universe; the Linac Coherent Light Source that would provide laser-like radiation 10 billion times greater in power and brightness than any existing x-ray light source; a Protein Production and Tags Facility that would mass produce and characterize tens of thousands of proteins per year; and the Rare Isotope Accelerator that would be the world's most powerful research facility dedicated to producing and exploring new rare isotopes not found naturally on earth.
November 10, 2003
President Bush signs into law the Department of the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Act for 2004. The Interior bill, which partially funds DOE, gives the Department $1.7 billion, $40 million less than in 2003. Appropriations include $681 million for fossil energy research and development and $889 million for conservation programs. The act allocates $172 million to the President's clean coal power initiative and $9 million to the FutureGen emissions reduction program for coal power plants. DOE's Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy David Garman cites concern over Congress' decision to cut $11.5 million from the President's request for fuel cell technology and a cut of more than $58 million in the request for weatherproofing low-income housing. Weatherization funding, Garman notes, "tries to help folks who spend a disproportionately large share of their income on energy bills."
November 13, 2003
Secretary Abraham announces that DOE-funded research at the Institute for Biological Energy Alternatives (IBEA), headed by J. Craig Venter, has achieved a significant scientific advance in their efforts to piece together DNA strands, thereby helping develop new, biological methods to capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, produce hydrogen and clean the environment. The IBEA, the Secretary notes, has succeeded in stitching together a genome of a phage, or a virus of bacteria.
November 13, 2003
President Bush signs a congressional appropriations bill that increases funding for several critical coal technologies, helping insure coal and clean coal technology remains a cornerstone of U.S. energy policy. Congress agreed to include more than $380 million in the DOE FY 2004 Fossil Energy budget for the coal research and development. The money will be used in support of research on more efficient and economic ways for coal plants to meet current and future environmental regulations. Included is $9 million to initiate the President's FutureGen project - the world's first zero emission coal facility that will produce both electricity and hydrogen, while sequestering greenhouse emissions. "Congressional support of the President's Clean Coal Power Initiative will allow a continuation of the government/private sector partnership that has already produced dramatic improvements in our ability to use coal in an environmentally responsible manner," Secretary Abraham says. "Congress is to be congratulated for ensuring continued progress toward meeting expanded economic and energy security benefits flowing from coal use, while overcoming environmental concerns."
November 14, 2003
Sen. Pete Domenici, (R-New Mexico), chairman of the energy bill conference committee, announces that all issues have been resolved and the committee of 58 lawmakers will meet November 17 to vote on the bill. Language authorizing drilling in Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is not in the bill. "Congress has crafted a comprehensive and balanced energy bill that reflects the President's energy priorities and will be an important investment in ensuring America's energy security and economic vitality," Secretary Abraham notes in a statement to the press. "I urge the Congress to pass this energy bill before the end of the year."
November 17, 2003
The energy bill conference committee approves the measure after defeating attempts by Democrats to change important electricity, ethanol, and tax provisions. Secretary Abraham says that a failure by Congress to pass an energy bill this year would be a "catastrophic mistake." With its support for President Bush's hydrogen fuel-cell research program, the Secretary notes, the bill would help reduce U.S. oil imports and defeat would "postpone our ability to implement important electricity titles."
November 18, 2003
The House passes the energy bill by a 246 to 180 vote.
November 19, 2003
The U.S.-Canada Task Force on the Power System Outage, co-chaired by Secretary Abraham, issues an interim report on the massive August 14 blackout. "One major conclusion of the Interim Report is that this blackout was largely preventable," the Secretary says in his remarks. "However, the report also tells us that once the problem grew to a certain magnitude, nothing could have been done to prevent it from cascading out of control." The investigation was conducted by three working groups. The Electric System Working Group found that the initial events that led to the cascading blackout occurred in Ohio when three high-voltage transmission lines operated by First Energy Corporation short-circuited and went out of service when they came into contact with trees that were too close to the lines. A series of factors followed that contributed to the blackout, including human error, system failures, poor communications, and mechanical breakdowns. The Nuclear Working Group determined that all affected nuclear plants in the U.S. and Canada functioned properly. The Security Working Group found no evidence to date of terrorist activities, foul play or sabotage.
November 19, 2003
Secretary Abraham convenes the inaugural meeting of the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy (IPHE) at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C. Ministers and representatives from 15 nations and the European Commission are in attendance. "Today marks a significant advancement in countries from around the globe working together for a safe and environmentally benign hydrogen economy," the Secretary says in his remarks. The meting features formal ministerial statements on hydrogen policies and programs, a tour of hydrogen technologies, and a "drive and ride" of the latest in fuel cell hydrogen concept vehicles. "The vision of the International Partnership for the Hydrogen Economy," the Secretary observes, "is that a participating country's consumers will have the practical option of purchasing a competitively priced hydrogen power vehicle, and be able to refuel it near their homes and places of work, by 2020." The meeting culminates on November 20 when the Ministers sign an agreement formally establishing the IPHE.
November 20, 2003
The DOE's Los Alamos National Laboratory cannot locate a classified computer disk during an annual inventory. The disk is believed to be destroyed.
November 21, 2003
In the Senate debate on the energy bill, 40 senators, including six Republicans, vote against invoking cloture to limit debate and bring the measure to a final vote. "Today, a bipartisan majority of Senators endorsed the energy bill, but procedural roadblocks stand in the way to getting a fair up or down vote by the Senate," declares Secretary Abraham. "It's time to take down the procedural hurdles blocking this important energy initiative that creates jobs and lessens America's dependency on foreign sources of energy." Opposition in the Senate focuses on a provision giving producers of MTBE, a gasoline additive, immunity from defective product lawsuits and the "special interest" provisions in the tax section. Tax breaks in the bill total $25.7 billion, almost $10 billion more than anticipated and three times the limit set by the White House.
November 21, 2003
Secretary Abraham announces that DOE is moving ahead with the next major phase of the Nuclear Power 2010 program, seeking formal applications from nuclear generating companies to partner with the Department on licensing activities that would enable a new nuclear plant to be ordered and licensed for deployment early in the decade. The activities include preparation and submittal of combined construction and operating (or "one-step") license application to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and certification of advanced, Generation III+ nuclear plant designs. The Department is offering $15 million to help companies apply and expects industry to pay half the cost of the projects.
November 26, 2003
The Department releases proposed guidelines for the voluntary reporting of greenhouse gas emissions and reduction efforts designed to improve the accuracy, verifiability and completeness of greenhouse gas emission data reported under the registry program. The proposed revisions would enable DOE to fully recognize those participants in the registry who provide an accurate and complete accounting of their efforts to reduce greenhouse gases. The proposed guidelines will encourage major U.S. companies and institutions to undertake comprehensive reviews of their greenhouse gas emissions and to take actions to reduce emissions.
Top of page
December 1, 2003
President Bush signs into law the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act of 2004. The Department's allocation in the Energy and Water bill, which funds most of DOE's activities, is about $120 million less than the President requested. Congress withheld $180 million from environmental management projects where state agreements on accelerated cleanup were lacking. Congress also cut $127 million from the request for the National Nuclear Security Administration, including a $105 million cut in the weapons program. Congress appropriated $141 million more than the President requested for the Office of Science.
December 2, 2003
The Department releases two reports-Research and Current Activities and Technology Options for the Near- and Long Term-from the U.S. Climate Change Technology Program that present a portfolio of federal research and development investments in climate change technology development.
December 3, 2003
Secretary Abraham attends the signing of the 21st Century Nanotechnology Research and Development Act by President Bush. The act authorizes funding for nanotechnology research and development over four years and puts into law programs and activities supported by President Bush's National Nanotechnology Initiative. The act authorizes nearly $2 billion in funding for DOE's research and development efforts, which include construction of five nanoscience research center at DOE labs: , Brookhaven, Lawrence Berkeley, Los Alamos/Sandia, and Oak Ridge national laboratories.
December 3, 2003
The Department's Energy Information Administration (EIA) issues a report, Inquiry into August 2003 Gasoline Price Spike. "EIA's report concludes that the gasoline price increases experienced in the nation last summer were due largely to long-term supply tightness and high levels of demand, not opportunistic activity by sellers," states Secretary Abraham. "Prices were affected by factors such as the oil strike in Venezuela, the power blackout in the Midwest and Northeast, a pipeline rupture in Arizona and other events, including widespread, unanticipated refinery outages even prior to the Midwest blackouts. The fact remains that our nation's energy security is not as strong and robust as it should be."
December 3, 2003
Secretary Abraham asks The National Coal Council to prepare a study identifying "which opportunities could expedite the construction of new coal-fired electricity generation." He also requests that the Council "examine opportunities and incentives for additional emissions reduction including evaluating and replacing the oldest portion of our coal-fired power plant fleet with more efficient and lower emitting coal-fired plants."
December 4, 2003
Secretary Abraham announces that DOE has established the new Office of Security and Safety Performance Assurance. The office will be responsible for the development and implementation of DOE's safeguards and security policies and will report directly to the Secretary. This action follows a comprehensive review by Deputy Secretary Kyle McSlarrow, which identified the need to reform and better coordinate the roles of independent oversight and the security policy organizations within the Department.
December 9, 2003
The Department's Los Alamos National Laboratory announces that an intensive inventory of classified computer data storage devices has discovered eight disks missing. Lab officials suspect that the disks have all been destroyed, but there is not record of destruction. "This situation is totally unacceptable," lab Director G. Peter Nanos says in a statement. "Security is one of our most important jobs; obviously we now must look deeper into the control of all sensitive information and solve these problems."
December 10, 2003
The Department launches a new website that will serve as a resource for Greenhouse Gas (GHG) intensity reduction activities by industry associations participating in the Climate VISION program. The website enables the public and association member companies to track their progress in meeting their GHG-intensity reduction commitments under the program.
December 10, 2003
The Tritium Facility Modernization and Consolidation Project at DOE's Savannah River Site in South Carolina begins "hot" (radioactive) testing in 233-H, one of two newly modified facilities. The facilities will provide the capabilities to process hydrogen isotopes from the new Tritium Extraction Facility now under construction.
December 11, 2003
The Department announces that DOE-funded researchers decode DNA and analyze the genome of a bacterium with the potential to clean up uranium contamination and generate electricity. "The genome of this tiny microorganism may help us to address some of our most difficult cleanup problems and to generate power through biologically-based energy sources," Secretary Abraham says. "This genome sequence and the additional research that it makes possible may lead to new strategies and biotechnologies for cleaning up groundwater at DOE and at industry sites."
December 12, 2003
The Department's National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Pantex facility outside Amarillo, Texas, dismantles the last nuclear artillery shell, the W-79, in the U.S. nuclear stockpile. "This administration is committed to reducing the threat of nuclear weapons world wide," says Secretary Abraham. "We have completed dismantlement of another class of nuclear weapons-weapons that were a very important deterrent during the Cold War." NNSA Administrator Linton Brooks adds, "Eliminating the last nuclear artillery warhead marks the end of an era in U.S. defense policy that included ground-launched battlefield nuclear weapons." The W-79 artillery shell was placed into service in 1981 and has been in dismantlement operations at Pantex since 1998.
December 12, 2003
The Department's Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) begins operations at the Glovebox Excavator Method (GEM) facility. The GEM project will demonstrate buried waste retrieval at Pit 9, which contains mixed transuranic waste generated by the Rocky Flats Plant and shipped to INEEL in the late 1960s. At the GEM facility, workers do not come into direct contact with the waste. Workers operate a backhoe with the arm and scoop bucket extended and isolated inside an enclosed excavation area. The contaminated soil and debris will be processed through a glovebox, scanned to determine radioactivity levels, sorted, sampled, and repackaged for eventual disposal outside Idaho.
December 16, 2003
The Department's Energy Information Administration (EIA) releases its Annual Energy Outlook 2004. The EIA forecasts, through the year 2025, lower natural gas demand and higher natural gas prices than last year's long-run projections. Total U.S. energy demand, through 2025, is projected to increase 1.5 percent annually in a scenario where the economy grows at an average annual rate of 3.0 percent. The average world oil price is projected to decline to $23.30 per barrel in 2005 and then rises slowly to $27.00 per barrel by 2025, largely due to the impact of higher projected world oil demand. Net U.S. petroleum imports, including both crude oil and refined products, are expected to account for 70 percent of total petroleum demand by 2025, up from 54 percent in 2002. Average real electricity prices are projected to decline from 7.2 cents per kilowatthour in 2002 to a low of 6.6 cents per kilowatthour by 2007 due to cost reductions in an increasingly competitive market faced with excess generating capacity resulting from the recent boom in construction and the continued decline in coal prices. After 2007, average real electricity prices are projected to increase, reaching 6.8 cents per kilowatthour by 2025.
December 17, 2003
Secretary Abraham hosts the Global Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) Ministerial Summit in Washington, D.C. The meeting brings together Energy Ministers from 24 nations to explore global natural gas resources, existing and proposed supply projects, import and export terminal facilities, LNG transportation routes to North America, new and growing markets, emerging technology applications, safety, facility security, regulatory and siting challenges, and opportunities and barriers for investment in the LNG industry.
December 17, 2003
At the Global Liquified Natural Gas Ministerial Summit, Secretary Abraham meets, separately, with the the oil ministers from Indonesia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela. The Secretary tells the ministers that President Bush is concerned the high prices could thwart the ongoing U.S. economic recovery. U.S. crude currently is trading at more than $33 per barrel. "Obviously, I stated my long-term belief that markets should be allowed to work," the Secretary says afterward.
December 19, 2003
President Bush announces that "today in Tripoli, the leader of Libya, Colonel Moammar al-Ghadafi, publicly confirmed his commitment to in his country. He has agreed immediately and unconditionally to allow inspectors from international organizations to enter Libya. These inspectors will render an accounting of all nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and will help oversee their elimination.
December 20, 2003
Negotiators from United States, China, the European Union, Japan, Russia and South Korea meeting in Reston, Virginia, fail to reach a consensus on the site for constructing the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor.
December 23, 2003
The Department's Office of Science announces today that three key computational science projects in chemistry, astrophysics, and engineering science have been chosen to receive a total of 4.9 million hours of supercomputing time at DOE's National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center in Berkeley, California. The projects are expected to significantly advance the understanding of the makeup of the universe, the chemical process by which plants convert sunlight to energy while removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and the turbulent forces that affect everything from weather to industrial processes.
December 23, 2003
The Department's Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management (OCRWM) announces that it has identified the Caliente rail corridor as its preference for construction of a rail line to serve the Yucca Mountain Repository in Nevada. The 319-mile Caliente rail corridor, one of five corridors studied, would approach Yucca Mountain from the north of the Nellis Air Force Range. The "more remote location and the reduced likelihood of land use conflicts" with the Caliente corridor, OCRWM notes, "appear to best assure the safe, secure, and timely transport of materials to Yucca Mountain."
December 24, 2003
Secretary Abraham announces that seventeen kilograms of Russian-origin highly enriched uranium (HEU) are returned from Bulgaria to the Russian Federation as part of the DOE-funded Russian Research Reactor Fuel Return Initiative. The fresh HEU was airlifted from Gorna Oryahovista airport in Bulgaria to Dmitrovgrad, Russia, where it will be down-blended. "The Bush Administration has taken the lead on nonproliferation efforts to help make our world safer," the Secretary says. "With U.S. leadership and through cooperation and determination with other nations, a more secure world is eventually attainable. Proliferation of nuclear material is a worldwide problem and requires a worldwide solution. We must not allow terrorists and others with bad intentions to acquire deadly material, and the Department of Energy will continue doing its part."
December 31, 2003
Line crews at DOE's Bonneville Power Administration (BPA) work two days in cold, wet, and snowy weather to connect a new 500-kilovolt line into the federal power grid that serves the Pacific Northwest. The new Kangley-Echo Lake line is placed into service just ahead of a major cold snap and winter storm in the Puget Sound area. "We got it into service just in time to meet record-high loads," Vickie VanZandt, BPA's chief engineer says. The nine-mile line is the first major new line BPA has built since 1987.