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Environmental Defense Fund v. Mathews

ELR Citation: 6 ELR 20369
Nos. No. 75-1811, 410 F. Supp. 336/8 ERC 1877/(D.D.C., 03/26/1976)

The court grants summary judgment to plaintiff in a suit challenging a Food and Drug Administration regulation which states that the agency has no authority to take regulatory action solely on the basis of environmental considerations not enumerated in its enabling statutes. The challenged regulation, which was promulgated in connection with FDA's decision to authorize the use of nonreturnable plastic beverage containers, violates NEPA's mandate to federal agencies to take environmental considerations into account in their decision making "to the fullest extent possible." NEPA supplements present agency enabling authorities, and compliance with NEPA cannot be excused unless its requirements directly conflict with existing statutory duties. The FDA is mistaken in claiming that such a direct conflict exists between its duties under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FDCA) and NEPA's mandates. The FDCA merely lists a number of criteria that the FDA Commissioner must consider in taking regulatory actions. Since the statute does not clearly exclude environmental considerations, NEPA provides FDA with supplementary authority to consider all relevant environmental factors in making substantive decisions under the FDCA and its other statutes.

For information relating to documents filed by the parties in this litigation, see ELR 65264, 65288.

Counsel for Plaintiff
John F. Dienelt
Caplin & Drysdale
1101 17th Street, NW
Washington DC 20036
(202) 293-3900

Counsel for Defendants
William M. Cohen
Eric S. Gould
Department of Justice
Washington DC 20530
(202) 739-2775

Jerome H. Heckman
Peter T. Smith
Keller & Heckman
1150 17th Street, NW
Washington DC 20036
(202) 296-2700