The Atomic Energy Act (AEA) required the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (defendant) to hold a hearing upon the request of any person who may be affected by a grant, amendment, or renewal of a license The AEA did not specify any required nature of the hearing. The commission initially interpreted this hearing requirement as requiring an on-the-record hearing under the Administrative Procedure Act (APA). These proceedings were akin to full court trials with extensive procedures, often taking multiple years to complete. With several licenses about to be up for renewal, the commission issued new rules, finding that license hearings did not need to be on the record. The new hearing rules required fewer procedures, and the proceedings generally would be completed more quickly. Specifically, the rules (1) eliminated the discovery process in lieu of certain mandatory disclosures by parties, and (2) curtailed cross-examination to that which was necessary to the case, subject to the discretion of the presiding officer. Citizens Awareness Network, Inc. (plaintiff) sued the commission, arguing that the AEA required an on-the-record hearing in accordance with the APA.