By David Williams
David Williams is a 3L at the University of Virginia School of Law, where he is an Editor with the Virginia Environmental Law Journal.
In the wake of Massachusetts v. EPA, the EPA fashioned new regulations to cover greenhouse gasses. As part of the new suite of regulations, the agency promulgated a “Tailoring Rule” that departed from the plain text of the Clean Air Act (“CAA”). The EPA justified this rule with reference to two canons of interpretation: absurd results and administrative necessity. The EPA describes the canon of administrative necessity as a three part test:
The way the agency describes and applies the administrative necessity doctrine suggests that it is a well-established, clearly defined doctrine that has been used often to justify agency departures from statutory requirements. I argue to the contrary. The doctrine of administrative necessity is actually a recently assembled collection of disparate statements from a small handful of D.C. Circuit cases. Never has a regulatory scheme that departs from statutory requirements been justified by administrative necessity. Such a piecemeal rule is inadequate to justify the EPA’s regulatory departure from the Clean Air Act.
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