Administrative Procedure Act
Nat. Res. Def. Council, Inc. v. U.S. Envtl. Prot. Agency, No. 19CV5174, 2020 WL 615072, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22855 (S.D.N.Y. Feb. 10, 2020).
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York granted summary judgment to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), an environmental nongovernmental organization, regarding its challenge to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) revised policy that prevents scientists who receive EPA grants from serving on the agency’s advisory committees. NRDC argued that the change in policy was an effort to move scientific advisory panels toward industry views and away from academic priorities. EPA argued that, under the Federal Advisory Committee Act, an agency may appoint members “at the agency's sole discretion,” and no standards for such appointment were available for the court to use in its review. In granting NRDC’s motion and denying EPA’s cross-motion for summary judgment, the court held that the change in policy was arbitrary and capricious because EPA had failed to provide a good explanation for why it departed from its previous policy and “why an outright ban on EPA grant recipients [serving on advisory committees] would improve the existing policies that required demanding and continuous conflict of interest reviews” and other procedural safeguards.