During the early 1970s, energy shortages started to confound the country as demand exceeded supply. By 1977, when Members of the Committee on Government Operations circulated this letter to their fellow Representatives, the situation had become acute. In March 1977, newly elected President Jimmy Carter outlined his plans to address the energy crisis, which included asking Congress to create a Department of Energy, a federal agency to oversee energy policy and domestic production, an idea this letter deemed essential.
Carter’s recommendation received bipartisan backing. On June 1, 1977, committee Chairman Jack Bascom Brooks and Ranking Member Frank Jefferson Horton, as well as committee members Dante Bruno Fascell and Elliott Harris Levitas, used a mass communication method in the House known as a “Dear Colleague” to call on Members to support H.R. 6804. This legislation consolidated the various efforts to respond to the energy crisis into a new executive branch agency. “We are dealing with grave issues that affect the lives of every American and the future of our country,” the message said. “If we are to deal with them successfully we must have an organizational structure with enough authority and flexibility to develop and carry out a comprehensive national energy policy.” President Carter signed the Department of Energy Organization Act into law on August 4, 1977.