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 An agency has broad discretion to choose how best to marshal its limited resources and personnel to carry out its delegated responsibilities. See Chevron U. S. A. Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council, Inc., 467 U. S. 837, 842-845 (1984) . That discretion is at its height when the agency decides not to bring an enforcement action. Therefore, in Heckler v. Chaney, 470 U. S. 821 (1985) , the court held that an agency’s refusal to initiate enforcement proceedings is not ordinarily subject to judicial review. Some debate remains, however, as to the rigor with which courts review an agency’s denial of a petition for rulemaking.


There are key differences between a denial of a petition for rulemaking and an agency’s decision not to initiate an enforcement action. See American Horse Protection Assn., Inc. v. Lyng, 812 F. 2d 1, 3-4 (CADC 1987). In contrast to nonenforcement decisions, agency refusals to initiate rulemaking “are less frequent, more apt to involve legal as opposed to factual analysis, and subject to special formalities, including a public explanation.” Id., at 4; see also 5 U. S. C. §555(e). They moreover arise out of denials of petitions ...

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