Republicans Want To Shut Down The Department Of Energy. Here’s Why That’s A Really Bad Idea:

Ted Cruz wants to abolish the Department of Energy. Sarah Palin can’t decide. In 2008, she said that she wanted to get rid of it, but more recently she declared that she would like to run it and then abolish it. Eliminating a $27 billion agency is a big deal, so it makes you wonder what all the fuss is about.

On Cruz’s website he says we should, “cut off the Washington Cartel, stop picking winners and losers, and unleash the energy renaissance.” Palin says she thinks a lot about the department because, “energy is my baby: oil and gas and minerals, those things that God has dumped on this part of the Earth for mankind’s use.”

Those are strange objections, because they have very little to do with what the Department of Energy does. (It does not, as Palin implies, have anything to do with oil leases.) In fact, I think most would agree that the main activities of the agency—nuclear defense, scientific research and empowering innovation—are essential programs that we couldn’t do without.

Supporting Nuclear Defense

The biggest thing that the DOE does is nuclear defense, which makes up nearly two thirds of its total budget. This includes everything from managing our stockpile of nuclear weapons and providing the Navy with the reactors that power our submarines and aircraft carriers. It is also one of the key agencies involved with non-proliferation.

Clearly, these are important jobs and it’s hard to see how we could eliminate them. Nuclear security is certainly a crucial government function. Our Navy wouldn’t want to do without nuclear reactors powering its fleet and we need experts to help us monitor the nuclear activities of other nations (which is why Secretary Moniz played such a big part in the recent Iran talks).


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