Friday, November 1, 2013

Entergy Corp. v. Riverkeeper, Inc. case brief

Entergy Corp. v. Riverkeeper, Inc. case brief summary
129 S. Ct. 1498 (2009)

Petitioner powerplant operators sought review of a judgment from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit which set aside regulations adopted by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under 33 U.S.C.S. § 1326(b). Certiorari review was limited to whether § 1326(b) authorized the EPA to compare costs with benefits in determining the best technology available for minimizing adverse environmental impact at cooling water intake structures.

Petitioners' powerplants were subject to the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C.S. § 1251 et seq., because they had cooling water intake structures that threatened aquatic organisms. Respondents, environmental groups and various States, challenged the EPA's Phase II rules under 40 C.F.R. § 125.94 that applied to existing facilities. The EPA expressly declined to mandate closed-cycle cooling systems in part because of the cost.

  • The Second Circuit held that the EPA was not permitted to use cost-benefit analysis in determining the content of regulations promulgated under § 1326(b). 
  • The Court, however, held that the EPA permissibly relied on cost-benefit analysis in setting the national performance standards under § 125.94(b) and in providing for cost-benefit variances from those standards under § 125.94(a)(5). 
  • Considering § 1326(b)'s text, and comparing it with the text and statutory factors applicable to parallel provisions under 33 U.S.C.S. §§ 1311, 1314, and 1316, prompted the Court's conclusion that it was well within the bounds of reasonable interpretation for the EPA to conclude that cost-benefit analysis was not categorically forbidden.


The Court reversed the judgment, and it remanded the action for further proceedings. 5-4 Decision; 1 partial Concurrence/partial Dissent; 1 Dissent.

Recommended Supplements for Administrative Law Examples & Explanations: Administrative Law, Fourth Edition
Administrative Law and Process: In a Nutshell (Nutshell Series)

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