Forecast Office move from certification because she asserts that the anticipated move is not a "relocation" as anticipated by the statute.
In reviewing agency action, we adhere to the standard the Supreme Court set forth in Chevron U.S.A. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, 467 U.S. 837, 843; 104 S. Ct. 2778; 81 L. Ed. 2d 694, 703 (1984). If Congress has specifically addressed the issue, the agency must comply with the express mandate. If Congress has not addressed the issue, the agency must only offer a permissible construction of the statute. Id.; See also, National Railroad Passenger Corp. v. Boston and Maine Corp, 112 S. Ct. 1394, 118 L. Ed. 2d 52 (1992); Conoco, Inc., supra. A permissible construction is one that involves a reasonable interpretation of the congressional mandate. Id.
Congress expressly defined "relocate" within the statute as "to transfer from one location to another location that is outside the local commuting or service area." § 702(7). "Service area" is defined as "the geographic area for which a field office provides services or conducts observations . . ." § 702(9). There is no definition offered for what constitutes a "local commuting area."
Defendant argues that Mount Holly is only 20 miles from the current site of the Philadelphia office and is, therefore, within the local commuting area. We believe this to be a reasonable interpretation of that statutory phrase.
The parties offer conflicting portions of the legislative history in their attempts to define "local commuting area."
None of the references is conclusive and, under Chevron, we must defer to a reasonable agency interpretation.
Additionally, the statute refers to "local commuting or service area." Defendant has explained, and our reference to NWS manuals confirms, that Philadelphia and Mount Holly are within the same service area. Second Declaration of Elbert Friday, NWS Director, at P 25; Operations of the National Weather Service at 11 (1985). We find defendant's interpretation of the statute to be reasonable and we will, accordingly, give it due deference.
Both the statutory language and the reasonable interpretation given it by defendant lead us inexorably to the conclusion that the certification requirement does not apply to either the Middle Atlantic River Forecast Center or the Philadelphia Weather Service Forecast Office. We must, therefore, deny plaintiffs' motion for reconsideration. We have already noted that defendant's motion must be dismissed as it was improvidently made.
We recognize that this is a matter of importance to the litigants and to many members of the public. We conclude by emphasizing that the issues at hand are matters of legislative and administrative policy and that the proper role of this Court is to interpret and give effect to the will of Congress, not to pass on its wisdom.
William W. Caldwell
United States District Judge
Date: November 13, 1992