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 The APA authorizes suit by '[a] person suffering legal wrong because of agency action, or adversely affected or aggrieved by agency action within the meaning of a relevant statute.' 5 U. S. C. §702. Where no other statute provides a private right of action, the 'agency action' complained of must be 'final agency action.' §704 (emphasis added). 'Agency action' is defined in §551(13) to include 'the whole or a part of an agency rule, order, license, sanction, relief, or the equivalent or denial thereof, or failure to act.' (Emphasis added.) The APA provides relief for a failure to act in §706(1): 'The reviewing court shall ... compel agency action unlawfully withheld or unreasonably delayed.'


Sections 702, 704, and 706(1) all insist upon an 'agency action,' either as the action complained of (in §§702 and 704) or as the action to be compelled (in §706(1)). The definition of that term begins with a list of five categories of decisions made or outcomes implemented by an agency--'agency rule, order, license, sanction [or] relief.' §551(13). All of those categories involve circumscribed, discrete agency actions, as their definitions make clear: 'an agency statement of ... future effect designed to implement, ...

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