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

435 U.S. 519 (1978)


Saginaw opposed the permit application for Vermont Yankee. Saginaw filed comments on the NRC staff's draft EIS claiming that it failed to give adequate consideration to the alternative of energy conservation. Saginaw did not participate in the hearings, but the licensing board attempted to address its objections by claiming that it was beyond their province to inquire into whether the customary use being made of electricity in our society were proper or improper. The licensing board granted the permits and Saginaw brought a petition for review in the court of appeals. While the case was pending, new rules required federal agencies to consider energy conservation as an alternative in impact statements on future energy-related projects. Saginaw the petitioned NRC to reopen the Consumers Power case to consider energy conservation. The NRC refused; Saginaw's petition did not meet the threshold test of showing that reasonably available energy conservation alternatives would curtail demand for electricity to a level at which the proposed facilities would not be needed. The Court of Appeals heard the case, and the Supreme Court granted certiorari. The Court of Appeals ruled that the Commission's threshold test for the presentation of energy conservation contentions was inconsistent with NEPA's basic mandate to the Commission.