The opinion of the court was delivered by: ROBINSON, JR.
The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (hereinafter NARUC) is a quasi-governmental organization whose members represent the governmental bodies of the fifty states and the District of Columbia engaged in the regulation of carriers and utilities. NARUC brings this action against the Interstate Commerce Commission (hereinafter the ICC or the Commission) and the United States to enjoin, set aside and annul orders of the ICC issued in State Registration of Emergency Temporary and Temporary Authority, Ex Parte No. MC-67,119 M.C.C. 327.
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 2325, a Three-Judge Court was convened to determine this question. The Court having reviewed the briefs and heard oral argument by the parties concludes that the Commission's action challenged herein was within the scope of the authority conferred upon it by Congress and conformed to procedural requirements. Therefore the Commission's decision must be sustained.
A brief history of the dispute giving rise to this litigation and an overview of the regulatory scheme involved is hereafter set forth in explanation of the Court's decision.
In addition to the above, the ICC has authority to issue temporary authorities to meet immediate transportation needs, pursuant to 49 U.S.C. § 310a(a).
This provision, which is set out at the margin, makes clear and the cases have so held that temporary authorities are quite different, at least procedurally, from 'certificates' and 'permits.'
To be specific, the standards for initially granting, the discretion of the ICC in issuing and the process for administrative review are all quite different with regard to temporary authorities.
Juxtaposed with the complex Federal regulatory scheme over motor carriers, was the established system within each State for motor carrier registration prior to use of their respective highways. These registration requirements required truckers inter alia to register their ICC issued operating authorities (both temporary and permanent), to register and identify their vehicles and to register evidence of insurance and designation of local agent for service of process.
In 1966 NARUC adopted initial standards which were certified to the ICC and subsequently promulgated. These standards, codified at 49 C.F.R. Part 1023, set forth uniform registraion requirements for motor carriers including registration of both temporary and permanent authorities. Specifically, one of the standards provides that a temporary authority of thirty (30) days or less duration need not be registered in a State if the motor carrier has already registered a previously issued authority and notifies the State of its newly issued ICC temporary authority.
This provision which exempts certain carriers operating with temporary authorities from state registration is at the core of this dispute. In August, 1973, the ICC issued notice of proposed rulemaking to amend this provision, to provide an extension of the exemption to carriers with temporary authorities of ninety (90) days duration.
In addition, the amendment provides a simplified notification procedure for those carriers who have no previous authority already registered in a State, permitting them to notify the State personally without ICC verification. The ICC adopted the proposed rule
despite NARUC's contention that this amendment to the standards could not be promulgated through rulemaking, but must be adopted first by NARUC, then certified to the ICC, as provided by 49 U.S.C. § 302(b)(2) and as followed on all previous occasions when the uniform standards were issued and amended.
It is this act of the Commission which is currently before the Court for review. NARUC contends that this regulation which amends the uniform standards should be set aside because it was promulgated in an illegal manner. Plaintiff argues that when Congress amended the Interstate Commerce Act to include a unique procedure for promulgation of uniform standards for state registration requirements through initial adoption by the NARUC and subsequent certification to the ICC, Congress intended that NARUC would have exclusive jurisdiction over the standards for registration of both temporary and permanent authorities. Petitioners recite legislative history, contemporaneous construction by the Commission and logic as supportive of their position that the terms 'certificates' and 'permits' should be interpreted to include 'temporary authorities'. In the alternative, NARUC argues that the regulation is arbitrary and capricious, lacking adequate support in the record.
Looking at the face of the statute, the Court concludes that the Commission's position is the correct one. The statutory provision which withdraws from the ICC authority over regulating state registration requirements is clear and unambiguous in its use of the precise terms of 'certificates' and 'permits.' 49 U.S.C. 310a(a) which grants the Commission authority to issue temporary authorities was enacted in 1938, and motor carriers operating under temporary authorities occupied a significant and well-known position in the industry at the time this provision for uniform standards was enacted. Had Congress intended to include temporary authorities in this statutory scheme for standardization, it would have chosen words to so indicate.
Plaintiff refers to substantial portions of the legislative history to support the argument that Congress intended to include both temporary and permanent authorities in its grant of jurisdiction over uniform standards to NARUC, despite the use of more restrictive terms 'certificate' and 'permits.' It is a well recognized principle of statutory construction, however, that legislative history should be used to resolve ambiguities, and not to create them.
For this reason, the Court is of the opinion that any exhaustive discussion of or indeed resort to the legislative history to resolve the issue presented would be unnecessary and improper in this case.
Nevertheless, the Court has reviewed the legislative history and fails to find persuasive evidence that Congress intended other than what it stated and made clear in wording this statute. Therefore, it is the decision of this Court that 49 U.S.C. § 302(b)(2) which grants to a national organization of State Commissioners jurisdiction to adopt uniform registration requirements does not encompass the area of temporary authorities.
The Court having concluded that the Commission has authority to amend the registration requirements pertaining to temporary authorities, the only contention left for resolution is whether the record before the Court supports the Commission's decision to adopt the proposed revision of the requirements.
The Court's review function is quite circumscribed in cases of this nature. The proper standard for judicial review of this regulation is whether the ...