The United States Secretary of Energy is the head of the United States Department of Energy, a member of the President's Cabinet, and fifteenth in the presidential line of succession. The position was formed on October 1, 1977 with the creation of the Department of Energy when President Jimmy Carter signed the Department of Energy Organization Act. Originally the post focused on energy production and regulation. The emphasis soon shifted to developing technology for better, 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 maintenance of environmental quality.
Former Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger was the first Secretary of Energy, who was a Republican nominated to the post by Democratic President Jimmy Carter, the only time a president has appointed someone of another party to the post. Schlesinger is also the only secretary to be dismissed from the post. Hazel O'Leary, Bill Clinton's first Secretary of Energy, was first female and African-American holder. The first Hispanic to serve as Energy Secretary was Clinton's second, Federico Peña. Steven Chu became the first Asian American to hold the position on January 20, 2009, serving under the administration of Barack Obama. He is also the first and only Nobel Prize winner to be a Cabinet secretary and the longest-serving Secretary of Energy.
On February 1, 2013, Chu announced his resignation, stating that he will continue to serve until after the ARPA-E Summit at the end of February and possibly until a new secretary is appointed.
Secretaries of Energy
|#||Portrait||Name||State of residence||Took office||Left office||Party||President served under|
|1||James Schlesinger||Virginia||August 6, 1977||August 6, 1979||Republican||Jimmy Carter|
|2||Charles Duncan||Texas||August 24, 1979||January 20, 1981||Democratic||Jimmy Carter|
|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||Ronald Reagan|
|5||John Herrington||California||February 7, 1985||January 20, 1989||Republican||Ronald Reagan|
|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|
|8||Federico Peña||Colorado||March 12, 1997||June 30, 1998||Democratic||Bill Clinton|
|9||Bill Richardson||New Mexico||August 18, 1998||January 20, 2001||Democratic||Bill Clinton|
|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||George W. Bush|
|12||Steven Chu||California||January 20, 2009||present||Democrat||Barack Obama|