Natural Resources Defense Council v. Environmental Protection Agency. 464 F.3d 1.
United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, August 29, 2006.
In Natural Resources Defense Councilv. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held that certain decisions of the parties acting under the international legal regime to protect the ozone layer are not “law” with which EPA must comply under the Clean Air Act. In dicta, the court suggested that holding the decisions to be “‘law’ would raise serious constitutional questions in light of the nondelegation doctrine, numerous constitutional procedural requirements for making law, and the separation of powers” (p. 9).
The purpose of the international ozone regime—in particular, the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and the Montreal Protocol on Substances That Deplete the Ozone Layer—is to protect stratospheric ozone, which intercepts harmful ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Unlike oxygen (O2), ozone (O3) is unstable: when a chlorine or bromine compound reaches the stratosphere, it sets off chemical chain reactions that destroy thousands of ozone molecules. As industrial production of such compounds has increased, stratospheric ozone has been depleted, allowing more ultraviolet radiation to reach the Earth, where it causes skin cancer and cataracts, reduces agricultural productivity, and harms the environment. The ozone regime reduces ozone-depleting substances (ODS) in the stratosphere by phasing out their production.