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Under settled doctrine, 'an agency interpretation of a relevant provision which conflicts with the agency's earlier interpretation is 'entitled to considerably less deference' than a consistently held agency view.' I.N.S. v. Cardoza-Fonseca, 480 U.S. 421, 107 S. Ct. 1207, 1221 n.30, 94 L. Ed. 2d 434 (1987) (quoting Watt v. Alaska, 451 U.S. 259, 273, 68 L. Ed. 2d 80, 101 S. Ct. 1673 (1981)). See also FEC v. Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, 454 U.S. 27, 37, 70 L. Ed. 2d 23, 102 S. Ct. 38 (1981); Adamo Wrecking Co. v. United States, 434 U.S. 275, 287 n.5, 54 L. Ed. 2d 538, 98 S. Ct. 566 (1978); Skidmore v. Swift & Co., 323 U.S. 134, 140, 89 L. Ed. 124, 65 S. Ct. 161 (1944); National Fuel Gas Supply Corp. v. FERC, 258 U.S. App. D.C. 374, 811 F.2d 1563 (D.C. Cir. 1987).


When an agency is authorized by Congress to issue regulations and promulgates a regulation interpreting a statute it enforces, the interpretation receives deference if the statute is ambiguous and if the agency’s interpretation is reasonable. A court must determine whether Congress has “directly spoken to the precise question at issue.” If so, “that ...

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