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Northern Ind. Pub. Serv. Co. v. Porter County Chapter of the Izaak Walton League of Am.

Citation: 6 ELR 20040
No. No. 75-4, 423 U.S. 12/8 ERC 1752/(U.S., 11/11/1975) Rev'd

The Supreme Court grants certiorari and reverses a Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruling which had set aside an Atomic Energy Commission Safety and Licensing Appeals Board's approval of a permit for construction of a nuclear power plant on the south shore of Lake Michigan. The court of appeals erred in rejecting the agency's interpretation of its regulations regarding "population center distance" in nuclear plant siting. Its interpretation, which measures such distances not solely from a nearby town's political boundary but rather from an imaginary boundary marking "that portion of the population center at which the dense population starts," is both supported by the wording of the agency's regulations and consistent with prior agency decisions. The case is remanded for consideration of plaintiffs' remaining arguments against issuance of the construction permit, issues not decided by the court of appeals.

Mr. Justice Douglas, in a concurring opinion, emphasizes that the reversal does not rest on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's subsequent revision of the disputed regulations, and notes that ad hoc rulemaking in areas such as this which touch upon public safety is to be looked upon which disfavor.

For the court of appeals decision, here reversed, see 5 ELR 20274.

Counsel for Petitioner Northern Indiana Public Service Co.
Charles A. Horsky
Covington & Burling
888 16th Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006

Counsel for Petitioner Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Robert Bork, Solicitor General
Department of Justice
Washington, D.C. 20530

Peter Straus, General Counsel
Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, D.C. 20555

Counsel for Respondent
Edward W. Osann, Jr.
Business and Professional People for the Public Interest
109 N. Dearborn Street
Chicago, Ill. 60602