Saturday, May 17, 2014

Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Corp. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. case brief summary

Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Corp. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. case brief summary
Course: Administrative Law
Link to Full Case: Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Corp. v. NRDC - 435 U.S. 519 (1978) - Justia

CASE SYNOPSIS
This case came from two separate decisions which were made by the Atomic Energy Commission.

The decisions were:
1) to grant a license to Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Corp. (the petitioner), and
2) to grant a permit to Consumers Power Co. (Petitioner).

The Natural Resources Defense Council challenged the Commission in the Court of Appeals (Dist. of Columbia), claiming it employed insufficient procedure.

RULES
Section:553(b) of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) states that agencies are to publish notice of proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register, and that the interested parties are to be given an opportunity to participate, or comment, before the agency adopts a final rule.

This section of the APA imposes the maximum procedural requirements which Congress was willing to have courts impose upon agencies in rulemaking procedures.

FACTS
In the first case, the Court remanded a decision of the Commission to grant a license to Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Corp. to operate a nuclear power plant.  The court found the proceedings to be inadequate and overturned the rule. In the second case, the Court remanded the Commissions to grant a permit to Consumers Power Co. to construct two pressurized water nuclear reactors to generate electricity and steam.

ISSUE
Were the rulemaking procedures of the agency adequate?

HOLDING
Yes, the procedures were adequate.  This case was reversed and remanded.

DISCUSSION
  • The Court of Appeal had improperly required the agency to employ rulemaking procedures in excess of those required under the text of the APA.
  • Agencies are free to grant additional procedural rights in the exercise of their discretion, however, reviewing courts are generally not free to impose these rights if the agencies have not made the choice to grant them.

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