These interviews are most useful for understanding public/private partnerships in utilities markets, especially electrical power and emerging commercial satellite communications. In the realm of environmental regulation, policies under the purview of the Department of Interior such as mining and mine safety, forest management and fire responses, and the use of federal lands and resources to generate and transmit electrical power garner the most attention. Rural electrification and the structure of power “wheeling” agreements in the west receive much discussion.
Researchers interested in the regulation of the communications industries will also find interviews of interest. Some interviews provide extensive discussion of the FCC, the State Department and the development of the Communications Satellite Corporation (COMSAT) to provide and regulate multinational commercial satellite communications, as well as the development and regulation of cable television.
Other interviews examine the workings of the Federal Trade Commission and the role of the Council of Economic Advisors is shaping economic policy during the Kennedy Administration.
The website of the Eisenhower Library in Abilene, Kansas, is an access portal for oral histories of the administration that are available through multiple institutions, primarily the Eisenhower Library, the Columbia University Oral History Project, as well as other libraries with smaller collections. The library website provides detailed abstracts of linked interviews, but in most cases researchers must visit the repositories to access transcripts for audio files. (A limited number of transcripts are available online.) The full list of interviews is available at the Eisenhower library’s oral history page.
An initial survey reveals nineteen interviews with abstracts or transcripts available through the Eisenhower library that contain significant content pertaining to regulatory issues. These interviews provide a window on the evolution of the post-war American regulatory state, with particular attention to global contexts, including the Cold War, the Korean war, the development of the European Common Market, and advancements in and proliferation of nuclear energy technologies and weapons. The Atomic Energy Commission, the Federal Reserve, and the agricultural commodities trade (esp. sugar) receive particular attention in these geopolitical contexts. Domestically, post-war economic growth fostered renewed political debate over the federal government’s role in the economy and the continued utility of regulatory policies first instituted during the New Deal. Several interviews discuss the establishment of the Federal Aviation Agency (precursor to the Federal Aviation Administration) and the growth of the airline industry. Changes to the policy structures for the regulation of agricultural commodities are also a prominent themes. Many interviews cover issues related to U.S. fiscal and economic policies and regulations. Several discuss the activities and internal politics of the president’s Council of Economic Advisors. Others discuss appointments, staffing, and regulatory actions by the Securities and Exchange commission and enforcement of anti-trust policy by the Justice Department.
Project description: These 44 interviews involve people on all sides of a controversy in western Minnesota over the routing of power lines. Per the finding aide, “the controversy escalated as costs of the project rose and additional frustration was created by cumbersome review processes, and by what many protesters saw as excessive concern by the federal and state governments for wildlife areas and highway right of way at the expense of protection for productive farmland.”
Regulatory significance: This project effectively captures a kaleidoscope of views over what tradeoffs regulators should make. Interviewees include politicians, regulators at the Department of Natural Resources, affected farmers, and board members of the electric cooperatives.