Note: This version focuses on the "Administrative Law" aspects of this case, if you are more interested in the "Environmental Law" aspect, look at this version instead.
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.