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Oil and Gas Transportation: Department of Transportation Is Taking Actions to Address Rail Safety, but Additional Actions Are Needed to Improve Pipeline Safety
GAO-14-667: Published: Aug 21, 2014. Publicly Released: Sep 22, 2014.
Increased oil and gas production presents challenges for transportation infrastructure because some of this increase is in areas with limited transportation linkages. For example, insufficient pipeline capacity to transport crude oil has resulted in the increased use of rail, truck, and barge to move oil to refineries, according to government and industry studies and publications GAO reviewed. The...
EPA Regulations and Electricity: Update on Agencies' Monitoring Efforts and Coal-Fueled Generating Unit Retirements
GAO-14-672: Published: Aug 15, 2014. Publicly Released: Sep 15, 2014.
The Department of Energy (DOE), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) have taken initial steps to implement a recommendation GAO made in 2012 that these agencies develop and document a joint process to monitor industry's progress in responding to four proposed or finalized EPA regulations affecting coal-fueled generating units. GAO concluded...
Federally Funded Research Centers: Agency Reviews of Employee Compensation and Center Performance
GAO-14-593: Published: Aug 11, 2014. Publicly Released: Sep 10, 2014.
The 30 federally funded research and development centers (FFRDC) sponsored by the Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Defense (DOD), and National Science Foundation (NSF) received nearly $84 billion in total funding for fiscal years 2008 through 2012. Of these 30 centers, the 16 sponsored by DOE received about 79 percent of this funding according to GAO's analysis of sponsoring agencies' res...
Electricity Markets: Actions Needed to Expand GSA and DOD Participation in Demand-Response Activities
GAO-14-594: Published: Jul 11, 2014. Publicly Released: Aug 11, 2014.
The General Services Administration (GSA) and the Department of Defense (DOD) facilitate participation in electricity demand-response activities by their buildings and installations, but unlike GSA, DOD does not have guidance encouraging this participation. Specifically, GSA has provided information to its building managers about periods of peak demand. GSA also issued guidance encouraging its bui...
Drinking Water: EPA Program to Protect Underground Sources from Injection of Fluids Associated with Oil and Gas Production Needs Improvement
GAO-14-555: Published: Jun 27, 2014. Publicly Released: Jul 28, 2014.
The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) role in the Underground Injection Control (UIC) class II program is to oversee and enforce fluid injection into wells associated with oil and gas production, known as class II wells. EPA has approved 39 states to manage their own class II programs, and EPA regions are responsible for managing the programs in remaining states. EPA regions and states use a...
National Nuclear Security Administration: Agency Expanded Use of Some Federal Oversight Reforms, but Is Still Determining Future Plans
GAO-14-588: Published: Jul 17, 2014. Publicly Released: Jul 17, 2014.
Key reforms at the National Nuclear Security Administration's (NNSA) Kansas City Plant (KCP)—a site in Missouri that manufactures electronic and other nonnuclear components of nuclear weapons—included (1) streamlining operating requirements by replacing Department of Energy (DOE) requirements with industry standards, where appropriate; (2) refocusing federal oversight to rely on contractor per...
Fusion Energy: Observations on DOE's Cost and Schedule Estimates for U.S. Contributions to an International Experimental Reactor
GAO-14-750T: Published: Jul 11, 2014. Publicly Released: Jul 11, 2014.
Since the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) Agreement was signed in 2006, the Department of Energy's (DOE) estimated cost for the U.S. portion of ITER has grown by almost $3 billion, and its estimated completion date has slipped by 20 years. DOE has identified several reasons for the changes, such as increases in hardware cost estimates as designs and requirements have been m...
Bulk Fuel Pricing: DOD Needs to Reevaluate Its Approach to Better Manage the Effect of Market Fluctuations
GAO-14-595: Published: Jul 8, 2014. Publicly Released: Jul 8, 2014.
During fiscal years 2009 through 2013, the Department of Defense's (DOD) actual costs for bulk fuel differed considerably from its budget estimates, largely because of fluctuations in fuel price in the open market. During this period, DOD underestimated its costs for 3 years and overestimated them for 2 years as shown below. GAO identified two factors that contributed to the differences between es...
Nuclear Security: NNSA Should Establish a Clear Vision and Path Forward for Its Security Program
GAO-14-208: Published: May 30, 2014. Publicly Released: Jun 30, 2014.
Implementation of security reforms from 2009 to 2012 generally varied among National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) sites. According to Department of Energy (DOE) and NNSA officials and contractors, some of these efforts helped manage security costs and enhance productivity, among other benefits, but may also have increased security risks and reduced security performance at the Y-12 Nation...
Advanced Reactor Research: DOE Supports Multiple Technologies, but Actions Needed to Ensure a Prototype Is Built
GAO-14-545: Published: Jun 23, 2014. Publicly Released: Jun 23, 2014.
The Department of Energy's (DOE) Office of Nuclear Energy's (NE) approach to advanced reactor research and development (R&D) focuses on three reactor technologies—high-temperature gas-cooled reactors, sodium-cooled fast reactors, and fluoride-salt-cooled high-temperature reactors—but NE is also funding research into other advanced reactor technologies. NE's approach is to conduct research in s...