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

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Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Corp. v. NRDC
Seal of the United States Supreme Court.svg
Argued November 28, 1977
Decided April 3, 1978
Full case nameVermont Yankee Nuclear Power Corp. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc.
Citations435 U.S. 519 (more)
98 S. Ct. 1197; 55 L. Ed. 2d 460; 1978 U.S. LEXIS 21
While federal agencies are free to grant additional procedural rights in the exercise of their discretion, reviewing courts are generally not free to impose them if the agencies have not chosen to grant them.
Court membership
Chief Justice
Warren E. Burger
Associate Justices
William J. Brennan Jr. · Potter Stewart
Byron White · Thurgood Marshall
Harry Blackmun · Lewis F. Powell Jr.
William Rehnquist · John P. Stevens
Case opinions
MajorityRehnquist, joined by unanimous court
Blackmun, Powell took no part in the consideration or decision of the case.
Laws applied
Administrative Procedure Act

Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Corp. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, 435 U.S. 519 (1978), is a case in which the United States Supreme Court held that a court cannot impose rulemaking procedures on a federal government agency. The federal Administrative Procedure Act of 1946 and an agency's statutory mandate from Congress establish the maximum requirements for an agency's rulemaking (and adjudicative) process. An agency may grant additional procedural rights in the regulatory process (within constitutional and statutory limits). However, a reviewing court cannot "impose upon the agency its own notion of which procedures are 'best' or most likely to further some vague, undefined public good" (435 U.S. at 549); to do so would exceed the limits of judicial review of agency action.


The case was remanded for the circuit court to determine whether the Table S-3 rule was adequately supported by the administrative record. After the Nuclear Regulatory Commission revised the rule, the Natural Resources Defense Council filed for judicial review of the new regulation. They led to a second Supreme Court case, Baltimore Gas & Elec. Co. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 462 U.S. 78 (1983).

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • Breyer, Stephen (1978). "Vermont Yankee and the Courts' Role in the Nuclear Energy Controversy". Harvard Law Review. 91 (8): 1833&ndash, 1845. doi:10.2307/1340411. JSTOR 1340411.
  • Stewart, Richard B. (1978). "Vermont Yankee and the Evolution of Administrative Procedure". Harvard Law Review. 91 (8): 1805&ndash, 1822. doi:10.2307/1340409. JSTOR 1340409.

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