Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Corp. v. Natural Resources Defense Council
435 U.S. 519 (1978)

  • Vermont Yankee wanted to build a new nuclear power plant. They applied for a permit from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
  • The NRC went through an adjudication process, but decided that there were some environmental issues that would be best dealt with by instituting a new rule. So, they initiated a rulemaking process.
  • As part of the rulemaking process, the NRC issued notice, had an oral hearing, and allowed interested parties to file written comments.
  • NRDC attended the hearing and gave comments, but were unhappy with the final rule. They sued.
    • NRDC argued that NRC’s rulemaking process was not sufficient, and should include a discovery process and the ability to cross-examine witnesses.
  • The Appellate Court found for NRDC and ordered NRC to go back and add the additional procedures into their rulemaking process. NRC appealed.
  • The US Supreme Court reversed.
    • The US Supreme Court found that, in the absence of “constitutional constraints or extremely compelling circumstances” a court may not impose rulemaking procedures on an Agency beyond those set out in APA §553.
  • The basic rule in this case is that the courts may not impose any rulemaking procedures on an Agency, outside of what is specified in the APA and the Agency’s Enabling Act, the Constitution, or the specific Substantive Statutes of the Agency.