January 20, 1981
Ronald Reagan is inaugurated President.
January 23, 1981
James B. Edwards is sworn in as third Secretary of Energy.
January 28, 1981
President Reagan signs Executive Order 12287, which provides for the decontrol of crude oil and refined petroleum products.
February 25, 1981
Secretary Edwards announces a major reorganization of U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to improve management and increase emphasis on research, development, and production.
October 8, 1981
The Reagan Administration announces a nuclear energy policy that anticipates the establishment of a facility for the storage of high-level radioactive waste and lifts the ban on commercial reprocessing of nuclear fuel.
April 5, 1982
Secretary Edwards announces the placement of the 250-millionth barrel of oil in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
May 24, 1982
President Reagan proposes legislation transferring most responsibilities of DOE to the U.S. Department of Commerce. Congress fails to act on the proposal
November 11, 1982
Donald Paul Hodel is sworn in as fourth Secretary of Energy.
January 7, 1983
President Reagan signs the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, the nation's first comprehensive nuclear waste legislation.
March 23, 1983
President Reagan addresses the nation on national security and announces the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), a satellite-based defense system that would destroy incoming missiles and warheads in space.
October 7, 1983
DOE establishes the Civilian Radioactive Waste Management Office.
October 26, 1983
The Senate refuses to continue funding the Clinch River Breeder Reactor, effectively terminating the project.
April 13, 1984
The Leaf v. Hodel decision opens the Department’s nuclear weapons complex to state and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulation.
October 25, 1984
The National Coal Council is established to advise both government and industry on ways to improve cooperation in areas of coal research, production, transportation, marketing, and use.
February 7, 1985
John S. Herrington is sworn in as fifth Secretary of Energy.
April 10, 1986
Secretary Herrington asks Congress to open access to interstate natural gas pipelines and lift all remaining controls on natural gas prices.
April 26, 1986
A major nuclear accident occurs at Chernobyl Reactor #4 near Pripyat, Ukraine in the Soviet Union, spreading radioactive contamination over a large area.
May 14, 1986
Secretary Herrington requests the National Academy of Sciences/National Academy of Engineering to make an independent safety assessment of DOE's 11 major production and research reactors.
Sept. 24-29, 1986
Secretary Herrington leads U.S. delegation to Special Session of the International Atomic Energy Agency General Conference in Vienna, Austria, to discuss measures to strengthen international cooperation in nuclear safety and radiological protection in the aftermath of Chernobyl.
January 30, 1987
Secretary Herrington announces President Reagan's approval of construction of the Superconducting Super Collider (SSC), the world's largest and most advanced particle accelerator.
February 18, 1987
The DOE report, "America's Clean Coal Commitment," catalogs t37 projects underway or planned for clean coal demonstration facilities.
March 17, 1987
President Reagan's Energy Security Report outlines the nation's increasing dependence on foreign oil.
July 28-29, 1987
President Reagan announces an 11-point super-conductivity initiative at Federal Conference on Commercial Applications of Superconductivity, sponsored jointly by DOE and White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
December 22, 1987
Congress approves amendment designating Yucca Mountain, Nevada, as the only site to be considered for the high-level nuclear waste repository.
November 10, 1988
Secretary Herrington designates Texas as the site for the Superconducting Super Collider.
January 12, 1989
White House releases "2010 Report," projecting requirements for maintaining and modernizing the nuclear weapon production complex through the year 2010.
January 20, 1989
George Bush is inaugurated President.
March 9, 1989
James D. Watkins is sworn in as sixth Secretary of Energy
June 6, 1989
The Justice Department announces an investigation into possible violations of federal environmental laws at Rocky Flats.
June 27, 1989
Watkins announces the Ten-Point Plan to strengthen environmental protection and waste management activities at the Department's production, research, and testing facilities in response to mounting environmental and safety concerns within the weapons production complex.
July 26, 1989
President Bush directs DOE to develop a comprehensive national energy policy plan.
Watkins establishes the Modernization Review Committee to review the assumptions and recommendations of the 2010 Report.
November 9, 1989
DOE establishes the Office of Environmental Restoration and Waste Management within DOE. The office consolidates activities that had been spread throughout DOE.
August 2, 1990
Iraq invades and seizes Kuwait, creating a major international crisis. DOE announces plans to increase oil production and decrease consumption to counter Iraqi-Kuwaiti oil losses.
August 15, 1990
Secretary Watkins announces plans to increase oil production and decrease consumption to counter Iraqi-Kuwaiti oil losses.
President Bush declares the end of the Cold War as the Soviet Union collapses.