United States Secretary of Energy
Seal of the department
Flag of the secretary
Jennifer Granholm
since February 25, 2021
United States Department of Energy
StyleMadam Secretary (informal)
The Honorable (formal)
Member ofCabinet
National Security Council
Reports toPresident of the United States
SeatJames V. Forrestal Building, Washington, D.C.
AppointerThe President
with Senate advice and consent
Term lengthNo fixed term
Constituting instrument42 U.S.C. § 7131
FormationAugust 6, 1977
First holderJames R. Schlesinger
DeputyDeputy Secretary of Energy
SalaryExecutive Schedule, level I

The United States secretary of energy is the head of the United States Department of Energy, a member of the Cabinet of the United States, and fifteenth in the presidential line of succession. The position was created on October 1, 1977, when President Jimmy Carter signed the Department of Energy Organization Act, establishing the department.[2] The energy secretary and the department originally focused on energy production and regulation. The emphasis soon shifted to developing technology for better and more efficient energy sources, as well as energy education. After the end of the Cold War, the department's attention also turned toward radioactive waste disposal and the maintenance of environmental quality.[3] Former secretary of defense James Schlesinger served as the first secretary of energy. As a Republican nominated to the post by Democratic president Jimmy Carter, Schlesinger's appointment marks the only time a president has chosen a member of another political party for the position. Schlesinger is also the only secretary to be dismissed from the post.[4] Hazel O'Leary, Bill Clinton's first secretary of energy, was the first female and first African American to hold the position.[5] The first Hispanic to serve as Energy Secretary was Clinton's second energy secretary, Federico Peña.[6] Spencer Abraham became the first Arab American to hold the position on January 20, 2001, serving under the administration of George W. Bush. Steven Chu became the first Asian American to hold the position on January 20, 2009, serving under president Barack Obama. Chu was also the longest-serving secretary of energy and the first individual to join the Cabinet after having received a Nobel Prize.

President Joe Biden's nominee to be Secretary of Energy, former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm, was confirmed on February 25, 2021. Granholm is the second woman to lead the Department of Energy.

Nuclear weapons

In addition to responsibilities related to generation and use of energy, the secretary is the most senior official other than the president of the United States or Secretary of Defense with primary responsibility for the nation's ~3,800 viable nuclear weapons. This arrangement is intended to maintain full civilian control over strategic weapons, except as directed by the president for specific military uses. The department of energy is responsible for the building, maintenance, and disposal of all nuclear weapons within the United States' arsenal in addition to safeguarding these weapons when they are not actively deployed in military service. Under the terms of several successive treaties, most recently New START, the United States has reduced its strategic arsenal to 1500 deployed weapons. Consequently, many older legacy weapons systems have been dismantled or scheduled for dismantlement, with their core radioactive fuel - generally plutonium - being reprocessed into reactor-grade or space exploration fuel.

List of secretaries of energy


  Democratic (7)   Republican (9)


  Acting Secretary of Energy

No. Portrait Name State of residence Took office Left office Party President(s)
1 James Schlesinger Virginia August 6, 1977 August 23, 1979 Republican Jimmy Carter
2 Charles Duncan Texas August 24, 1979 January 20, 1981 Democratic
3 James Edwards South Carolina January 23, 1981 November 5, 1982 Republican Ronald Reagan
4 Donald Hodel Oregon November 5, 1982 February 7, 1985 Republican
5 John Herrington California February 7, 1985 January 20, 1989 Republican
6 James Watkins California March 1, 1989 January 20, 1993 Republican George H. W. Bush
7 Hazel O'Leary Virginia January 22, 1993 January 20, 1997 Democratic Bill Clinton
Charles B. Curtis Pennsylvania January 20, 1997 March 12, 1997 Democratic
8 Federico Peña Colorado March 12, 1997 June 30, 1998 Democratic
9 Bill Richardson New Mexico August 18, 1998 January 20, 2001 Democratic
10 Spencer Abraham Michigan January 20, 2001 February 1, 2005 Republican George W. Bush
11 Samuel Bodman Illinois February 1, 2005 January 20, 2009 Republican
12 Steven Chu California January 20, 2009 April 22, 2013 Democratic Barack Obama
Daniel Poneman Ohio April 22, 2013 May 21, 2013 Democratic
13 Ernest Moniz Massachusetts May 21, 2013 January 20, 2017 Democratic
Grace Bochenek January 20, 2017 March 2, 2017 Donald Trump
14 Rick Perry Texas March 2, 2017 December 1, 2019 Republican
15 Dan Brouillette Texas December 1, 2019 December 4, 2019 Republican
December 4, 2019 January 20, 2021
David Huizenga January 20, 2021 February 25, 2021 Democratic Joe Biden
16 Secretary Jennifer Granholm Jennifer Granholm Michigan February 25, 2021 Incumbent Democratic

See also


  1. ^ "3 U.S. Code § 19 - Vacancy in offices of both President and Vice President; officers eligible to act | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute". Law.cornell.edu. Retrieved June 14, 2017.
  2. ^ "Origins". U.S. Department of Energy. Archived from the original on July 12, 2007. Retrieved July 29, 2007.
  3. ^ "The Clinton Administration". The Washington Post. February 18, 2000. Retrieved July 29, 2007.
  4. ^ "Biography of James Schlesinger Origins". U.S. Department of Defense. Retrieved August 13, 2007.
  5. ^ "President Hazel R. O'Leary Honored by Urban League". Fisk University. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved August 13, 2007.
  6. ^ "Federico F. Peña to be Sworn in as the Eighth Secretary of Energy". U.S. Department of Energy. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007. Retrieved August 13, 2007.