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Envirocare v. NRC Increases Agency Discretion to Deny Administrative Intervention: Right Result--Wrong Reason

August 2000

Citation: ELR 10597

Author: William S. Jordan III

The law of standing to intervene in administrative proceedings has long been something of a stepchild of the law of standing to be heard in court. The recent decision of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in Envirocare of Utah, Inc. v. NRC1 may, however, have brought administrative standing out of the shadow of its more prominent relation.

Envirocare makes the following contributions to the law governing standing to intervene in agency proceedings. First, the court upheld the agency's denial of intervention standing to a company whose economic interests would be adversely affected by the agency's decision to issue a license to a competitor. Second, the court upheld the agency's position that it may deny standing to intervene even if the party in question would later qualify for standing on judicial review of the agency's decision. Third, in reaching its decision, the court deferred to the agency's view of the scope of the hearing provision in its organic statute. The net result of Envirocare is a substantial expansion of agency authority to control intervention in agency proceedings.

Mr. Jordan is a C. Blake McDowell Professor of Law, University of Akron School of Law. He received his J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School and his B.A. from Stanford University. The author is grateful to Professor Bernadette Genetin, who read and critiqued an earlier draft of this Article.

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