Get electric! How nuclear power was promoted as the solution for America in the ’80s

How nuclear power was promoted in the 80s

Note: This article may feature affiliate links, and purchases made may earn us a commission at no extra cost to you. Find out more here.


This ad series was created in the ’80s by the U.S. Council for Energy Awareness — which, as seemingly official and/or governmental as it sounds, was actually a marketing group created by the nuclear power industry.

When explaining their campaign during an advertising presentation in 1989, the group said:

Being independent. Standing on your own two feet. Providing for yourself. These ideals have long been part of the American character. We found that when we defined the need for nuclear energy, our message was not only better understood, but was also one Americans felt good about supporting. And the role nuclear energy plays as a way to help Americans be more energy independent is especially effective.

Of course, the public was skeptical — particularly after the 3-Mile Island and Chernobyl disasters. The oil industry was understandably opposed, and encouraged the anti-nuclear movement and funded anti-nuclear messages.

Peruse the vintage ads below to see how the pro-fission profession professed their preference for the promotion of nuclear power.

How nuclear energy can help defuse the next oil crisis (1987)

Nuclear-generated electricity, still the fastest-growing major energy source in America, may be our best defense against another oil crisis.

More and more energy experts are asking the same question: How long before another oil shock torpedoes our economy and threatens our national security?

Nuclear energy can defuse the next oil crisis-1987

Oil turmoil: Signs of the next energy crisis

US oil imports soared last year, costing the country $27 billion. This year, America’s foreign-oil bill is expected to grow even bigger.

Many oil analysts are saying that in three years or less, as much as 50% of all the oil used in the US will have to be imported. That’s a higher percentage than we have ever imported before, even during the oil crises of the 1970s.

A whopping two-thirds of the world’s oil lies under the sands of OPEC nations.

The need for nuclear

Nuclear energy is a domestically produced alternative to foreign oil. Not just at the power plant, where nuclear energy is used instead of oil to generate electricity, but wherever Americans choose electricity (instead of oil) to heat their homes or run their factories.

The 1987 special report on US energy security, ordered by the President and prepared by the US Department of Energy, states that without electricity from nuclear energy, the United States “would be using more oil, paying more for each barrel of it, and feeling much less secure about its energy outlook.”

The more we use our own nuclear energy, the less we’ll have to rely on energy from unstable regions of the world.

Nuclear energy for a secure future

With over a hundred operating plants in the US, nuclear energy is now our second leading source of electricity. But in spite of all that we have accomplished, the threat of foreign oil dependence remains.

Difficult choices still need to be made, but one fact is clear: the more we develop our own energy sources, the more we can control our own destiny.

ALSO SEE: The beauty of antique kerosene lamps – and how one invention changed the way people lived

Nuclear energy helped America achieve its energy balance. (1987)

Is it a balance we can keep?


Without nuclear power: American dollars spent on foreign oil (1988)

There’s an incredible amount of American money going overseas to buy foreign oil. How much?

1980s Pro-nuclear Council for Energy Awareness campaign (3)

MORE: Thomas Edison says electricity will cure everything (1914)

Without nuclear power: American dollars spent on foreign oil (1988)

Electricity is so vital to our economy and our way of life that a shortage of electricity is unthinkable. yet some parts of the country are already experiencing brownouts during peak periods of demand.

The question is not, “Will we run out?” The question is: “What price will we have to pay?”

1980s Pro-nuclear Council for Energy Awareness campaign (1)

Nuclear power vs foreign oil’s ups & downs

1980s Pro-nuclear Council for Energy Awareness campaign (2)

MORE: Nikola Tesla’s revolutionary ideas included wireless electricity & free power for everyone

PS: If you liked this article, please share it! You can also get our free newsletter, follow us on Facebook & Pinterest, plus see exclusive retro-inspired products in our shop. Thanks for visiting!


You might also like...

The fun never ends:

Comments on this story

Leave a comment here!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

See some of our books!