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William G. Harger & Associates, PLLC  Feb. 12, 2024

Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo: Is the FAA About to Lose Its Clout in NTSB Hearings? 

The Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo case is a pivotal dispute where New England fisheries are challenging the National Marine Fisheries Service's interpretation of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. Central to the case is the potential limitation or overruling of the Chevron doctrine, which currently permits federal agencies to interpret ambiguous statutes within their jurisdiction. Simply put, if a statute is unclear, then courts will generally defer to the agency's interpretation as long as it is reasonable. 

This case has garnered significant attention from legal and environmental communities due to its potential impact on future regulatory proceedings. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of Loper Bright Enterprises, it could mean that federal agencies will have less flexibility in interpreting statutes and subsequently implementing regulations. This would likely result in more legal challenges and delays in regulatory processes, as agencies will have to ensure their interpretations align with strict judicial scrutiny. 

Understanding this situation is important for those involved in environmental law, as well as individuals and organizations affected by fisheries regulations. It also raises larger questions about the role of federal agencies in implementing and enforcing laws. Will this case diminish the power and influence of agencies like the FAA? And if so, what will be the consequences? These are important considerations for anyone interested in how our government functions. 

At William G. Harger & Associates, PLLC, Attorney Harger, an experienced attorney based in Houston, Texas, stands ready to assist licensed pilots, mechanics, and other aviation attorneys in understanding these issues and how they may affect the aviation industry. With a deep understanding of aviation law, he can provide valuable insights into these developments and their potential impacts on the aviation industry. Reach out for further information or assistance. 

Background of the Case

The Magnuson-Stevens Act, signed into law back in 1976, mandates that fisheries operating within 200 nautical miles off the U.S. coast must allow federal observers onboard their vessels. These observers collect data essential to preventing overfishing.

However, the NMFS's interpretation of this act has led to the contention seen in the Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo case. The fishing companies contend that NMFS exceeded its authority by requiring them to bear the cost of the federal observers' salaries. They assert that the statute does not explicitly authorize NMFS to impose such financial obligations on the fishing industry. 

Implications for the FAA

Should the Supreme Court rule in favor of Loper Bright Enterprises, it could pose a challenge to the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) authority in National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) hearings. The case raises questions about the extent to which federal agencies can interpret ambiguous statutes and impose financial burdens on regulated industries.

If the FAA loses its influence in NTSB hearings, it could lead to a shift in the balance of power between agencies and the industries they regulate. This shift could have far-reaching implications for future NTSB hearings and the regulatory landscape of the aviation industry. 

Moreover, if the FAA loses its clout, it could lead to increased scrutiny of agency interpretations, potential legislative action to clarify statutory ambiguities and a reevaluation of the Chevron doctrine.  

The Chevron Doctrine

The Chevron doctrine, a principle derived from the 1984 Supreme Court case Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., represents a significant judicial standard for review of a federal agency’s interpretation of a law that it administers. Under this doctrine, courts defer to an agency's expertise and interpretation of ambiguous legislative statutes when the interpretation is deemed reasonable.

This deference is granted in two steps, commonly known as the Chevron two-step test: 

  1. First, courts must determine whether the statute's language is clear about the issue in question; if it is, that interpretation must be followed.  

  1. If the statute is ambiguous, the second step evaluates whether the agency’s interpretation is based on a permissible construction of the statute.  

The case has the potential to reshape the relationship between agencies and the industries they oversee, with implications for regulatory compliance, enforcement, and industry practices. 

Public and Industry Reaction

The Loper Bright Enterprises v. Raimondo case has drawn significant attention from both the public and the fishing industry. The outcome of this case could profoundly impact the fishing industry's financial obligations and the interpretation of the Magnuson-Stevens Act. The fishing companies involved in the case argue that the NMFS's interpretation of the statute imposes undue financial burdens on their operations. 

Public reaction to the case has been mixed, with some supporting the fishing companies' position and others emphasizing the importance of federal observers in preventing overfishing. The case has sparked a broader debate about the balance between regulatory authority and industry interests. The Supreme Court's decision in this case will likely be closely watched by other regulated industries and may set a precedent for future challenges to agency interpretations of ambiguous statutes. 

Helping You Understand Legal Issues

For more information about this case and its potential impacts, feel free to reach out to Bill G. Harger at William G. Harger & Associates, PLLC. With a strong focus on aviation law, Attorney Harger is well-versed in the regulatory landscape and can provide valuable insights into how these developments might affect the aviation industry. 


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