The endless variety of federal regulatory programs are subject to the requirements of federal administrative law, i.e., the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). The APA is chiefly the province of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. In a recent case involving the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) implementation of a clean energy loan program, the District Court believed, following the conclusion of hearings in the court, that appropriate redress would result if the complaint was remanded, at DOE’s request, for additional review by DOE. When those proceedings were unsuccessful, the District Court dismissed the complaint. The Court of Appeals has now ruled that the requested remand should not have been granted, consistent with earlier precedential rulings by the Court of Appeals.
On May 19, in Limnia, Inc., v. U.S. Department of Energy, the Court of Appeals, returning the matter to the District Court to resolve Limnia, Inc.’s challenge to DOE’s denial of its clean-energy loan applications, confirmed that although “[a] district court has broad discretion to decide whether and when to grant an agency’s request for a voluntary remand,” “a voluntary remand is typically appropriate only when the agency intends to revisit the challenged agency decision on review.” In Limnia, the DOE, instead, “offered to review any new applications Limnia chose to submit, assuming that Limnia remitted the then-required application fees” “even though a central allegation of Limnia’s complaint was that the Department had waived the application fee associated with the Loan Guarantee Program.“