Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc. v. Nuclear Regulatory Commission

547 F.2d 633 (D.C. Cir. 1976)


NRDC(P) petitioned the Court of Appeals to overturn a Commission (D) decision to adopt the rule to grant Vermont Yankee's license. P reasoned that the refusal to allow cross-examination of participants or submission of interrogatories to the staff members who prepared the Environmental Survey violated NEPA's requirement that adverse environmental effects be investigated to the fullest extent possible. The D.C. Circuit Court agreed with NRDC finding D's action capricious and arbitrary. This dispute centered around the incorporation of a report by a Dr. Pittman, often verbatim into the record regarding the issue of high-level waste disposal techniques. The District Court agreed that the agency had the discretion to select the most effective procedures to compile a record but that it had a duty to scrutinize the record as a whole to ensure that genuine opportunities to participate in a meaningful way were provided. The report submitted by Dr. Pittman assumed that high-level waste facilities would be developed in the future to store waste so needing such storage for 250,000 years. As noted by the court, there were few details given in the Dr.'s report, and major technical issues regarding meltdown of wastes stored were merely paid lip service. The district court vacated the rule and remanded for further proceedings.