regulatory agency

Independent government commission charged by the legislature with setting and enforcing standards for specific industries in the private sector. The concept was invented by the U.S. government in 1887, and regulatory agencies exist almost exclusively in the U.S. The theory is that a commission of experts on the industry being regulated is better equipped to regulate it than the legislature or executive departments. Designed to operate with a minimum of executive or legislative supervision, agencies have executive, legislative, and judicial functions, and their regulations have the force of law. Important regulatory agencies include the Food and Drug Administration, OSHA, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Securities and Exchange Commission.

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U.S. independent regulatory agency that oversees the civilian use of nuclear energy. Established in 1974 to replace the Atomic Energy Commission, the NRC licenses the construction and operation of nuclear reactors and other facilities and the ownership and use of nuclear materials. It issues standards, rules, and regulations for the maintenance of licenses, and it regularly inspects nuclear facilities to ensure compliance with public health and safety, environmental quality, national security, and antitrust laws. The NRC also investigates nuclear accidents, conducts public hearings, and reviews power-plant operations. Its commissioners are appointed by the president of the U.S.

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