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Public Serv. Co. of N.H. v. NRC

Citation: 8 ELR 20557
No. No. 77-1419, 582 F.2d 77/12 ERC 1561/(1st Cir., 06/21/1978)

The court denies a petition for review challenging defendant's issuance of a license for construction of electric transmission lines from the Seabrook Nuclear Power Station subject to the condition that the proposed route be modified to minimize adverse environmental effects on a nearby swamp. The mandate in § 101 of the National Environmental Policy Act to use all practicable means to avoid environmental degradation and to preserve natural aspects of our national heritage imposes a duty upon federal agencies to effectuate the purposes of the Act to the fullest extent possible except where inconsistent with existing federal law. The Atomic Energy Act clearly gives the Nuclear Regulatory Commission authority to condition licenses and that authority must be exercised in accordance with NEPA's mandate. The court rejects petitioner's argument that the Atomic Energy Act does not confer upon the Commission jurisdiction over the licensing of electric transmission lines. To the extent that its organic authority is ambiguous on this question, the Commission has established this authority through the past exercise of such licensing power under the watchful eyes of the congressional Joint Committee on Atomic Energy, whose silence on the matter may be presumed to constitute endorsement. Finally, the court dismisses the contention that the action of the Commission has impermissibly preempted the regulatory authority of the state.

Counsel for Petitioner
Thomas G. Dignan, Jr., R. K. Gad, III, John A. Ritsher
Ropes & Gray
225 Franklin St., Boston MA 02110
(617) 423-6100

Counsel for Respondent
Stephen S. Ostrach; Jerome Nelson, General Counsel; Stephen F. Eilperin; Richard S. Mallory
Office of the General Counsel
Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Washington DC 20555
(202) 634-1398

Peter R. Steenland, Jr., Chief, Appellate Section
Land and Natural Resources Division
Department of Justice, Washington DC 20530
(202) 739-2183

Counsel for Intervenor Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests
Robert A. Backus
O'Neill, Backus, Spielman & Little
116 Lowell St., Manchester NH 03101
(603) 688-7272

Before Coffin, C.J., Campbell and Bownes, J.J.: