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Greene County Planning Bd. v. Federal Power Comm'n

Citation: 7 ELR 20552
No. No. 76-4151, 565 F.2d 807/11 ERC 1258/(2d Cir., 06/30/1977) Rev'd en banc

Reversing a panel decision, 7 ELR 20101, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting en banc, denies a petition for review of a Federal Power Commission (FPC) order denying an award of attorney fees to intervenors in a proceeding concerning the construction of an electrical transmission line. The court's conclusion that the Federal Power Act does not authorize the Commission to pay the legal expenses of intervenors must have control over the Comptroller General's opinion that the statute does give the agency such power. Authorization for the FPC to reimburse intervenors for their legal expenses must therefore await congressional action.

A dissent contends that the panel decision to remand for further FPC consideration of the funding request should be affirmed. The Comptroller General's opinion is entitled to the same judicial deference accorded an agency's statutory interpretation. Moreover, Alyeska Pipeline Service Co. v. Wilderness Society, 5 ELR 20286, is not controlling because it involved the compulsory shifting of intervenors' fees onto a private party rather than discretionary fee reimbursement by a federal agency.

Counsel for Petitioners
Robert J. Kafin
8 Pine St., Glens Falls NY 12801
(518) 793-6631

Barry H. Garfinkel
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom
918 Third Ave., New York NY 10022
(212) 371-6000

Counsel for Respondent
Philip R. Telleen, Drexel D. Journey, Robert W. Perdue, Allan Tuttle
Federal Power Commission, Washington DC 20426
(202) 275-4346

Counsel for Intervenor Power Authority of the State of New York
Scott B. Lilly, John C. Mason, Vito J. Cassan
Power Authority of the State of New York
10 Columbus Circle, New York NY 10019
(212) 265-6510

Counsel for Amicus Curiae Pacific Legal Foundation
Ronald A. Zumbrun, Robert K. Best, Raymond M. Momboisse
455 Capitol Mall, Suite 465, Sacramento CA 95814
(916) 444-0154

Albert Ferri, Jr., Glenn E. Davis, Lawrence P. Jones
1990 M St., NW, Washington DC 20036
(202) 466-2686

Joined by Gurfein, Meskill & Mulligan, JJ.; Kaufman, C.J., concurs; Lumbard, Mansfield & Oakes, JJ., dissent.*