MR. JUSTICE STEWART delivered the opinion of the Court.
In these three cases we review a single judgment of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, to
On September 20, 1971, two Indian tribes, five individual Indians, and two environmental groups
The six plants involved in these cases, like all thermal-electric power plants, will require large amounts of water to cool and condense the steam utilized in the process of generating electricity. See generally 1 FPC, The 1970 National Power Survey I-10-1 to I-10-20. The water needed for cooling purposes will be obtained by withdrawing substantial quantities of water from the Colorado River system. The complaint filed with the Commission asserted that it had licensing jurisdiction over the plants pursuant to § 4 (e) of Part I of the Federal Power Act, 16 U. S. C. § 797 (e), because all six plants are "project works" for the development, transmission, and utilization of power across and along navigable waters, and because two of the plants will use "surplus water" impounded by a Government dam.
The Commission on November 4, 1971, issued an order dismissing the complaint for lack of jurisdiction. The
Following denial by the Commission of an application for a rehearing, 46 F. P. C. 1307, the complainants filed a petition in the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to review the Commission's order. The Court of Appeals undertook a scholarly and comprehensive review of the executive and legislative antecedents of the Federal Water Power Act of 1920, and traced in detail the Act's legislative history and the administrative and judicial interpretations of the Act since its passage. 160 U. S. App. D. C. 83, 489 F.2d 1207. Based on this voluminous material, the Court of Appeals affirmed the Commission's conclusion that thermal-electric plants are not "project works" under § 4 (e) and that the Commission's licensing jurisdiction under the clause extends only to hydroelectric generating plants. "Steam plants," the court held, "were purposely omitted from the congressional scheme." 160 U. S. App. D. C., at 107, 489 F. 2d, at 1231. The Court of Appeals also held, however, that the Commission's licensing authority under the "surplus water" clause of § 4 (e) is not similarly limited. The use of "surplus water" for cooling purposes by thermal-electric generating plants is sufficient, the court concluded, to bring those plants within the Commission's licensing jurisdiction. 160 U. S. App. D. C., at 111-117, 489 F. 2d, at 1235-1241. Accordingly, the court remanded the case to the Commission to determine in the first instance whether any of the six plants involved in this case fall
The question whether thermal-electric generating plants are subject to the licensing jurisdiction of the Commission involves no issue as to the extent of congressional power under the Commerce Clause. It is well established that the interstate transmission of electric energy is fully subject to the commerce power of Congress. FPC v. Union Electric Co., 381 U.S. 90, 94; Public Utilities Comm'n v. Attleboro Steam & Elec. Co., 273 U.S. 83, 86; Electric Bond & Share Co. v. SEC, 303 U.S. 419, 432-433. And it is equally clear that projects generating energy for interstate transmission, such as the six plants involved in this case, affect commerce among the States and are therefore within the purview of the federal commerce power, regardless of whether the plants generate electricity by steam or hydroelectric power. FPC v. Union Electric Co., supra, at 94-95; see NLRB v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp., 301 U.S. 1, 40-41; Katzenbach v. McClung, 379 U.S. 294, 301-304. The only question before us is whether Congress has exercised that power in Part I of the Federal Power Act by requiring a license for the construction and operation of thermal-electric power generating plants that withdraw large quantities of water from navigable waters for cooling and other plant purposes.
Consideration of the Commission's statutory licensing authority under Part I of the Federal Power Act must, of course, begin with the language of the Act itself. Section 4 (e), 16 U. S. C. § 797 (e), authorizes the Commission
Emphasizing that these provisions do not require that the project works be used to generate "hydroelectric power," but rather merely "power," the complainants assert that the six thermal-electric power plants in this case fall squarely within the statutory language defining the Commission's licensing jurisdiction. Each of the thermal-electric facilities undoubtedly qualifies as a "complete unit of development of a power plant." The physical structure of each "project" therefore must be
So long as adherence to the literal terms of a statute does not bring about a result completely at variance with the purpose of the statute, the complainants argue, there is no justification for resorting to extrinsic aids such as legislative history to determine congressional intent. And since modern methods of operating thermal-electric power generating plants present an even greater threat to the conservation and orderly development of the power potential in navigable streams than do the operations of hydroelectric projects,
The complainants' reliance on the literal language of § 4 (e) and on the so-called "plain meaning" rule of statutory construction is not entirely unpersuasive. But their assertion that thermal-electric power plants drawing cooling water from navigable streams are unambiguously included within the Commission's licensing jurisdiction is refuted when § 4 (e) is read together with the rest of the Act, as, of course, it must be. See, e. g., Chemical Workers v. Pittsburgh Glass, 404 U.S. 157, 185; United States v. Boisdoré's Heirs, 8 How. 113, 122.
Section 4 (e) itself refers to "dams, water conduits, reservoirs, power houses, transmission lines, or other project works." The terms that precede "other project works," and which therefore indicate a congressional intent to limit the breadth of that general phrase, see Gooch v. United States, 297 U.S. 124, 128, refer to features ordinarily associated with hydroelectric facilities. The definition of "project" in 16 U. S. C. § 796 (11) similiarly refers to structures normally found in hydroelectric power complexes: a "project" is the "complete unit of improvement or development, consisting of a power house, all water conduits, all dams and appurtenant works and structures (including navigation structures) which are a part of said unit, and all storage, diverting, or forebay reservoirs directly connected therewith. . . ." Although the complainants note that a power development utilizing steam as a generating force could have many of the same structures, that possibility only serves to emphasize the ambiguity latent in the seemingly clear language chosen by Congress to define the extent of the Commission's licensing authority.
Other provisions of the Act make more apparent the limitations intended by Congress upon the reach of
In none of these statutory provisions is there any reference to the development or conservation of steam power, despite the fact that in 1920, as today, thermal-electric generating plants produced the greatest portion of this
Although the language of § 4 (e) itself could nonetheless be interpreted as extending the Commission's licensing jurisdiction to include thermal-electric power plants located on navigable streams, the legislative history of the Act conclusively demonstrates that Congress intended to subject to regulation only the construction and operation of hydroelectric generating facilities.
The committee report on H. R. 8716 reflected the administration's theory that the legislation was designed "to provide for the development of hydroelectric power by private capital." H. R. Rep. No. 715, supra, at 15.
The administration bill was reintroduced in the 66th Congress. The House Committee on Water Power again recommended approval to meet "the need for legislation for the development of hydroelectric power . . . ." H. R. Rep. No. 61, 66th Cong., 1st Sess., 4.
Although the legislative history of the Act reveals an ambitious attempt by Congress to provide for comprehensive control over a large number of uses of the Nation's water resources, there is simply no suggestion in any of the legislative materials that the bill would authorize the new Commission to license the construction or maintenance of thermal-electric power plants. "The principal use to be developed and regulated in the Act," this Court explained in FPC v. Union Electric Co., supra, at 99, "was that of hydroelectric power to meet the needs of an expanding economy." (Emphasis added; footnote omitted.) See also 381 U. S., at 115 (Goldberg, J., dissenting).
The limited scope of the § 4 (e) licensing authority, reflected in both the text of the Act and its legislative history, is reinforced by the Commission's consistent interpretation of that authority as not including jurisdiction over the construction and operation of thermal-electric power plants. In its First Annual Report to Congress, the Commission concluded that Congress intended only to give it licensing authority with respect to hydroelectric projects:
Ever since that first report in 1921, the Commission has consistently maintained the position that its licensing authority extends only to hydroelectric projects.
The deference due this longstanding administrative construction is enhanced by the fact that Congress gave no indication of its dissatisfaction with the agency's interpretation of the scope of its licensing jurisdiction when it amended the Act in 1930, c. 572, 46 Stat. 797,
The conclusion that Congress did not intend to give the Commission licensing jurisdiction with respect to
The Court found the answer to this argument in the fact that, even though not located on a navigable stream, Union Electric's generating plant produced electricity by harnessing water power: Unlike Parts II and III of the Federal Power Act, "under which the Commission regulates various aspects of the sale and transmission of energy in interstate commerce, Part I, the original Federal
For the above reasons we agree with the conclusion of the Court of Appeals that the structures composing thermal-electric power plants are not "project works" required to be licensed by the Commission. The Court of Appeals went on to hold, however, that the surplus water clause of § 4 (e) authorizes the Commission to license the use of such water not only for the development of hydroelectric energy but also for cooling purposes in thermal-electric power plants, finding that the surplus water provision was intended to serve broader interests than the project works clause of the same subsection of the Act. "It reflects an explicit concern with utilizing water resources to defray the cost of waterway improvements as well as a concern with comprehensive water resource management. It empowers the FPC to license the use of either `surplus water' or `water power' from any Government dam, and thus is not limited to the mere leasing of excess Government water power. . . . [T]he addition of the words `surplus water' in [§ 4 (e)]
The original title, preamble, and text of Part I of the Federal Power Act provide strong evidence that Congress intended to restrict the Commission's licensing jurisdiction with respect to the power industry to the construction and maintenance of hydroelectric facilities. See supra, at 403-404. Nothing in the language of the Act suggests that the surplus water clause was designed to be an exception to the Act's limited scope and purpose.
The Court of Appeals' own extensive analysis of the general background and legislative history of the Federal Water Power Act conclusively demonstrates that Congress intended the Act as a whole, not merely the project works clause, to subject to regulation only that segment of the power industry involving the construction and operation of hydroelectric generating facilities. See 160 U. S. App. D. C., at 91-109, 489 F. 2d, at 1215-1233; cf. supra, at 405-408. More importantly, the legislative history pertaining to the surplus water clause itself indicates that that clause, like the rest of the Act, relates to the conservation and development of only hydroelectric power.
The phrase "surplus water or water power from any Government dam" had its origins in legislation enacted during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, conferring on the Secretary of War the authority to lease at individual dam sites excess water for power development.
Section 14 was amended on the floor of the House to limit the duration of the leases authorized to 50 years. The amendment also changed the surplus water language of the section so that it closely resembled the language later adopted in the Federal Water Power Act: amended § 14 authorized "leases for the use of surplus water and water power generated at dams and works constructed wholly or in part by the United States in the interest of navigation . . . ." 51 Cong. Rec. 13256 (emphasis added). The change in language was not intended to broaden the scope of the surplus water clause. See id., at 13257.
The Senate Commerce Committee reported out a substitute bill, S. 6413, 63d Cong., 2d Sess., rather than the amended Adamson bill. Like the House bill, S. 6413, containing another version of a surplus water clause,
Similar bills were introduced in the 64th and 65th Congresses. Again, nothing in the language or reports on any of that proposed legislation indicated that the licensing authority to be created would extend to the
The administration bill considered initially by the 65th Congress, H. R. 8716, 65th Cong., 2d Sess., which as amended by that Congress and the 66th Congress became the Federal Water Power Act of 1920, contained a surplus water clause that paralleled the provisions of the earlier bills. Section 4 (d) of that bill, now § 4 (e) of the Federal Power Act, authorized the Federal Power Commission to issue licenses "for the purpose of utilizing the surplus water or water power over and above that
The administration bill, as already noted, see supra, at 407, was reintroduced in the 66th Congress and was enacted without any material changes in the surplus water clause as the Federal Water Power Act of 1920. As the Court of Appeals observed, see 160 U. S. App D. C., at 112-113, 489 F. 2d, at 1236-1237, little relevant legislative history concerning the meaning of the surplus water clause was generated during the 66th Congress.
The Court of Appeals based its contrary conclusion in large part on the fact that the Federal Water Power Act repealed the statutory authority for the Waterways Commission, created by the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1917. 40 Stat. 269. The court stated that "the newly created Federal Power Commission took over the planning and coordinating responsibilities of the Waterways Commission, which included consideration of a spectrum of water uses not related to water power." 160 U. S. App. D. C., at 115-116, 489 F. 2d, at 1239-1240 (footnote omitted). The court concluded from this transfer of responsibilities that the Federal Water Power Act reflected a concern with comprehensive water resource management and that the surplus water clause was intended to provide a basis for expanding governmental supervision of general water resource development and use. Id., at 116-117, 489 F. 2d, at 1240-1241.
Although it is true that § 29 of the Federal Water Power Act, 41 Stat. 1077, did expressly repeal the statutory authority for the Waterways Commission, it seems evident that that repeal was not intended to transfer all of that Commission's functions to the new Federal Power Commission. The House debates clearly indicate that the Waterways Commission authority was repealed largely because that Commission was not in fact a functioning agency, and in order to prevent any possible conflict between
Moreover, the responsibilities which the Waterways Commission did possess from 1917 to 1920, although quite broad, were investigatory, not regulatory. The Commission was authorized "to secure the necessary data, and to formulate and report to Congress . . . a comprehensive plan or plans for the development of waterways and the water resources of the United States for the purposes of navigation and for every useful purpose, and recommendations for the modification or discontinuance of any project herein or heretofore adopted." Rivers and Harbors Act of 1917, § 18, 40 Stat. 269. Accordingly, even if it could be concluded that the Waterways Commission's powers had been inherited by the FPC, that conclusion would not support recognition of Commission licensing jurisdiction over thermal-electric power plants using "surplus water" for cooling purposes.
The complainants finally argue that even though it may have been proper 50 years ago to construe the Commission's licensing jurisdiction as limited to hydroelectric projects, such a construction does great violence to the policies central to the Federal Power Act in the light of modern conditions. Although in 1920 steam plants supplied the bulk of the Nation's electric power and, as today, those plants were water-cooled,
Whatever the merits of the complainants' argument as a matter of policy, it is properly addressed to Congress, not to the courts. The legislative history of the Federal Water Power Act conclusively demonstrates that in 1920 Congress intended to provide for the orderly development of the power potential of the Nation's waterways only through the licensing of hydroelectric projects. And in
It may well be that the "obvious" distinction, recognized by Congress in 1920, in 1935, and in subsequent years of inaction, and by this Court in the Union Electric case, supra, at 110, between utilization of water resources by a hydroelectric project and a thermal-electric power plant is no longer viable. But until Congress changes the licensing provisions of Part I of the Federal Power Act, it is our duty to apply the statute as it was written and has been construed for the past 54 years.
For the foregoing reasons, the judgment before us is vacated, and the cases are remanded to the Court of Appeals with directions to enter a judgment affirming the Commission's dismissal of the complaint for lack of jurisdiction.
It is so ordered.
MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS took no part in the consideration or decision of these cases.
"To issue licenses to citizens of the United States, or to any association of such citizens, or to any corporation organized under the laws of the United States or any State thereof, or to any State or municipality for the purpose of constructing, operating, and maintaining dams, water conduits, reservoirs, power houses, transmission lines, or other project works necessary or convenient for the development and improvement of navigation and for the development, transmission, and utilization of power across, along, from, or in any of the streams or other bodies of water over which Congress has jurisdiction under its authority to regulate commerce with foreign nations and among the several States, or upon any part of the public lands and reservations of the United States (including the Territories), or for the purpose of utilizing the surplus water or water power from any Government dam, except as herein provided . . . ."
"It shall be unlawful for any person, State, or municipality, for the purpose of developing electric power, to construct, operate, or maintain any dam, water conduit, reservoir, power house, or other works incidental thereto across, along, or in any of the navigable waters of the United States, or upon any part of the public lands or reservations of the United States (including the Territories), or utilize the surplus water or water power from any Government dam, except under and in accordance with the terms of a permit or valid existing right-of-way granted prior to June 10, 1920, or a license granted pursuant to this chapter."
" `The exigencies of war brought to light defects in our national utilization of power which had not been fully realized. Operating under statutes enacted when the electrical industry was in its infancy, we had permitted our vast water-power resources to remain almost untouched, turning to coal and oil as the main source of power; for steam power could be developed more quickly and easily with fewer legal restrictions and with greater security to the investment.. . . The power requirements of this country will not be met until we develop our water powers, tie them in with steam plants located at the mine itself and operate all in great interstate systems. These considerations were presented before the special committee of the House of Representatives in the hearings held on the water-power bill during the last Congress. The need of adequate legislation is no less urgent now.' " Id., at 4-5.
"I think it is fairly to be inferred from the context, as well as the circumstances surrounding the enactment of the legislation, that it was the purpose of Congress to confer exclusive jurisdiction on the Federal Power Commission, except as provided therein, over the matter of issuing licenses for power projects, or parts thereof, for the development of hydroelectric power, and that it was not intended to vest the Commission with jurisdiction over the public lands for other purposes. If this view be correct, it follows that where a proposed transmission line is in no way connected with a water-power project the Commission is without jurisdiction to license the same." FPC, First Annual Report 156.
"Section 14 is a new section authorizing the Secretary of War, with the approval of the Chief of Engineers, to lease to any applicant who has complied with the laws of the State in which the dam may be located, any surplus power developed by a dam that is constructed or owned by the United States for the purposes of navigation." H. R. Rep. No. 592, 63d Cong., 2d Sess., 6.