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Letter to the Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, on the Development of Civilian Nuclear Power.

March 20, 1962

[Released March 20 1962. Dated March 17, 1962 ]

Dear Mr. Chairman:

The development of civilian nuclear power involves both national and international interests of the United States. At this time it is particularly important that our domestic needs and prospects for atomic power be thoroughly understood by both the Government and the growing atomic industry of this country which is participating significantly in the development of nuclear technology. Specifically we must extend our national energy resources base in order to promote our nation's economic growth.

Accordingly, the Atomic Energy Commission should take a new and hard look at the role of nuclear power in our economy in cooperation with the Department of the Interior, the federal Power Commission, other appropriate agencies, and private industry.

Your study should identify the objectives, scope, and content of a nuclear power development program in the light of the nation's prospective energy needs and resources and advances in alternate means for power generation.

It should recommend appropriate steps to assure the proper timing of development and construction of nuclear power projects, including the construction of necessary prototypes. There should, of course, be a continuation of the present fruitful cooperation between Government and industry--public utilities, private utilities and equipment manufacturers.

Upon completion of this study of domestic needs and resources, there should also be an evaluation of the extent to which our nuclear power program will further our international objectives in the peaceful uses of atomic energy.

The nuclear power plants scheduled to come into operation this year, together with those already in operation, should provide a wealth of engineering experience permitting realistic forecasts of the future of economically competitive nuclear power in this country.

As you are aware, two major related studies are now or will soon be under way. The study being conducted at my request by the National Academy of Sciences on the development and preservation of all our national resources will focus on the nation's longer-term energy needs and utilization of fuel resources. The other study to be launched soon by the federal Power Commission will determine the long range power requirements of the nation and will suggest the broad outline of possible programs of growth for all electric power companies-both private and public--to meet the great increase in power needs. Your study should be appropriately related to these investigations.

The extensive and vigorous atomic power development programs currently being undertaken by the Commission should, of course, be continued and, where appropriate, strengthened during the period of your study. I urge that your review be undertaken without delay and would hope that you could submit a report by September 1, 1962.



Note: The report "Civilian Nuclear Manpower" (67 pp., processed) was submitted to the President on November 20 by Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg, Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission.

John F. Kennedy, Letter to the Chairman, Atomic Energy Commission, on the Development of Civilian Nuclear Power. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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