In Re Permanent Surface Mining Regulation Litigation

653 F.2d 514 (D.C. Cir. 1981)


The Surface Mining Act addresses the establishment of appropriate standards to minimize damage to the environment and to the productivity of the soil and to protect the health and safety of the public. The Act contemplates a continuing partnership between the states and the federal government, with the D providing oversight, advice, and backup authority, and the states bearing the major responsibility for implementation of the Act. Each state must submit its proposed regulatory program to D for his approval. The Secretary may only approve the state program if he finds it capable of carrying out the exacting provisions of the Act, and consistent with his own regulations. D's regulations for the permanent regulatory program include rules concerning the content of acceptable state program submissions and specify minimum information that a state must require in a permit application, information, which extends beyond the explicit information requirements detailed in the Act itself. Various interested persons (Ps) filed actions in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia, challenging the permanent regulations. Ps claimed that D did not possess any power to promulgate regulations on a subject not detailed in the Act. The district court concluded that 'the structure of the Act, the general grants of rulemaking authority, and section 501(b) support D's power' to issue regulations requiring the states to demand more information than the statute itself requires. On July 10, 1980, a panel of the court reversed the judgment of the district court. Upon D's petition, the court granted rehearing en banc and vacated the panel decision.