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Letter to Senator Maybank on the Atomic Energy Program.

May 29, 1952

[Released May 29, 1952. Dated May 28, 1952]

My dear Mr. Chairman:

I understand that, in the course of recent hearings on the Atomic Energy Commission's 1953 budget, members of the Senate Committee on Appropriations expressed concern over the effect on total Federal expenditures of the proposed expansion of the atomic energy program, as well as its relationship to our total defense effort. I share your concern about the magnitude of Federal expenditures. The cost of the expansion program will be substantial. We must nevertheless continue our efforts to buttress the security of this country and of the free world. Not to do so invites disaster. I am convinced, therefore, that we must and that we can accomplish the proposed expansion in our atomic energy program. However, to make doubly sure, I recently have asked the members of the special committee of the National Security Council which I designated initially to review and make recommendations on this expansion program to reconsider it in the light of existing conditions.

This reconsideration by the NSC committee members clearly verities that this expansion program is integral to the necessary strengthening of our military defenses; current international conditions require that we proceed with dispatch to so strengthen our defenses; and the program is within the capabilities of the Commission and the expected availability of raw materials. The manpower, power and construction materials required for the new facilities can be made available without unduly adverse effects on the rest of the defense program or on our economy generally. I am sending to you copies of the letters in which the members of the special committee express their views upon the proposed expansion program.

The program has been carefully reviewed in order to bring its total cost down to a practicable minimum. Every effort has been made to exclude facilities not essential to achieving the expanded production goals. The presently estimated total capital cost of about 4.2 billion dollars, including the cost of power facilities to be constructed by the Tennessee Valley Authority, is substantially below the initial estimate of 5.4 billion dollars for the program. A substantial saving has been accomplished through further studies by the Atomic Energy Commission. Other cost reductions have been achieved in the course of analyses by the Commission and the Bureau of the Budget.

While appropriations of nearly 3.1 billion dollars are needed in the fiscal year 1953 to enable the Commission and the Tennessee Valley Authority to move ahead on the planned expansion of facilities, it is estimated that actual expenditures in that year will amount to only about 650 million dollars; the remainder will need to be obligated for construction contracts and equipment procurement that will not be sufficiently advanced to require actual cash outlay until subsequent years. In view of the action thus far on the 1953 annual appropriation bills, it does not appear that the expenditures for this expansion program will serve to increase total Federal expenditures in the fiscal year 1953 above the figure shown in the 1953 Budget.

I wish to urge upon you and your committee the importance to this Nation and the rest of the free world of undertaking this expansion program without delay.

Sincerely yours,


[Honorable Burnet R. Maybank, Chairman, Subcommittee on Independent Offices, Senate Committee on Appropriations, Washington 25, D.C.]

Note: for the President's statement upon approving the Supplemental Appropriation Act providing funds for the Atomic Energy Commission and the Tennessee Valley Authority, see Item 205.

Harry S. Truman, Letter to Senator Maybank on the Atomic Energy Program. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/230801

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