Supreme Court Will Reconsider Significant Case on Power of Federal Agencies

On Tuesday, May 1, the Supreme Court made the decision to reconsider a signficant case of the power of Federal agencies to interpret “vague” statutory language. Nearly 40 years ago, in Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council, the Supreme Court ruled that lower courts should defer to a Federal agency’s interpretation of an ambiguous statute as long as that interpretation is reasonable. In court cases since then, Federal agencies were given wide latitude in interpreting laws and developing guidance, as long as those actions were not arbitrary or capricious. The regulatory development process under environmental statutues could be change, depending on the outcome of this review. For example, in Section 1412 of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), as part of the decision to regulate a specific contaminant, i.e., a positive regulatory determination, the (EPA) Administrator shall determine that a national “..regulation presents a meaningful opportunity for health risk reduction…”, and what is meaningful could be considered open to interpretation.