Federal agency actions must be authorized by statute, but sometimes the statutes lack a certain amount of clarity, as many courts struggling with our federal environmental laws have observed with varying degrees of exasperation, befuddlement, and vitriol. But lack of statutory clarity does not in itself prevent agency action. A fundamental principle of administrative law is that courts generally defer to the judgment of administrative agencies attempting to implement an ambiguous or open-ended statute. This is referred to as “Chevron deference,” from the Supreme Court’s decision in Chevron v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U.S. 837, 844 (1984).
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