RESPONDENT: People Against Nuclear Energy
LOCATION: Minnesota State Legislature
DOCKET NO.: 81-2399
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1981-1986)
LOWER COURT: United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
CITATION: 460 US 766 (1983)
ARGUED: Mar 01, 1983
DECIDED: Apr 19, 1983
Paul M. Bator - on behalf of the Petitioners
William S. Jordan, III - on behalf of the Respondents
Facts of the case
Media for Metropolitan Edison Co. v. People Against Nuclear EnergyAudio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 01, 1983 in Metropolitan Edison Co. v. People Against Nuclear Energy
Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - April 19, 1983 in Metropolitan Edison Co. v. People Against Nuclear Energy
William H. Rehnquist:
The third is case is Nuclear Regulatory Commission versus People against Nuclear Energy and Metropolitan Edison versus People against Nuclear Energy.
In March 1979, the Three Mile Island nuclear plant near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania suffered a serious acts that the companion plant were shut down at the time for routine refueling.
After the accident, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission ordered the owner of the plants to keep Three Mile Island one shut down until it could be determined whether the plant could be operated safely.
The question in this case is whether the National Environmental Policy Act requires the Commission to consider whether operating Three Mile Island will cause psychological harm to neighboring residents before it permits the owner to renew operations.
Respondent, the People against Nuclear Energy, an association of the residents of the Harrisburg area has contended the renewed operation of Three Mile Island will cause severe psychological health damage to neighboring residents because of the risk of another nuclear acts and will cause them to suffer anxiety, tension and accompanying physical disorders.
The Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit agreed and order of the Commission to consider People against Nuclear Energy's contention.
We granted certiorari and we now reverse the judgment of the Court of Appeals.
We hold unanimously that the National Environmental Protection Act does not require the Commission to consider PANE's contentions.
The Act requires federal agencies to consider environmental effects of their actions not every effect.
We believe that Congress meant to require agencies to consider only those effects that are reasonably closely related to a change in the physical environment.
In this case, the harm PANE, People against Nuclear Energy, is concern about is caused by the risk of a nuclear accident by people's perception of that risk is much as by the operation of the plant.
We believe that the Act does not encompass PANE's concerns because the element of risks make them too far remove from the environment.
Justice Brennan has filed a concurring opinion.
Warren E. Burger:
Thank you, Justice Rehnquist.