United States Atomic Energy Commission

former agency of the United States federal government

The United States Atomic Energy Commission (AEC) was an agency of the United States federal government established in 1946 in order to transfer control of atomic energy from the U.S. military to U.S. civilian government. The AEC was abolished by the Energy Reorganization Act of 1974, which assigned the AEC's functions to two new agencies: ERDA and the NRC. In 1977, ERDA was combined with the FEA to form the United States Department of Energy (DOE).

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  • On Christmas Eve, two FBI agents arrived at Olden Manor and seized control of Oppenheimer's remaining classified papers. That same day, Oppenheimer received the AEC's letter of formal charges, dated December 23, 1953. ...
    The inclusion of Oppenheimer's opposition to the Super reflected the depth of McCarthyite hysteria that had enveloped Washington. Equating dissent with disloyalty, it redefined the role of government advisers and the very purpose of advice. The AEC's charges were not the kind of narrowly crafted indictment likely to bring conviction in a court of law. This was, rather, a political indictment and Oppenheimer would be judged by an AEC review panel appointed by the chairman of the AEC, Lewis L. Strauss.
  • The US Atomic Energy Commission, created by Congress in 1946, grew into a uniquely powerful, mission-oriented bureaucracy. One of its main goals was the creation of a flourishing commercial nuclear power program. By the late 1950s, the AEC began to acquire frightening data about the potential hazards of nuclear technology. It decided, nevertheless, to push ahead with ambitious plans to make nuclear energy the dominant source of the nation's electric power by the end of the century. The AEC proceeded to authorize the construction of larger and larger nuclear reactors all around the country, the dangers notwithstanding. The AEC gambled that its scientists would, in time, find deft solutions to all the complex safety difficulties.
  • Now, six years after the Commission had assumed responsibility for the nation's atomic energy commission, industry was becoming restive over the delay in realizing the commercial applications of nuclear power. While most of the nation was preoccupied with the election campaign during autumn 1952, a clamor for a greater role in the development of atomic energy was rising among power equipment manufacturers and the electric utility industry.

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