The U.S. Supreme Court’s 1980 decision in Industrial Union Department, AFL-CIO v. American Petroleum Institute—the so-called Benzene Case—is widely viewed as monumental in the field of risk regulation. The excerpts of the Court’s opinion in the Benzene Case that appear in leading legal casebooks in administrative law, environmental law, and legislation include the Court’s reference to a “national consensus standard” from the nongovernmental “American National Standards Institute” (ANSI). Yet none of these casebooks explain what ANSI is nor do they provide background on the meaning of a “national consensus standard” or private standards more generally. This module uses the Benzene Case to provide a window into the important but overlooked world of private standards and is suitable for any course in which students will read the Benzene Case. The module was developed by Cary Coglianese and Gabriel Scheffler at the Penn Program on Regulation centered at the University of Pennsylvania Law School.
Applicable Courses: Administrative Law, Environmental Law, Statutory Interpretation, Legislation, Regulation
Teaching Guide: Cary Coglianese and Gabriel Scheffler, Private Standards and the Benzene Case: A Teaching Guide
- Published version of teaching guide: Cary Coglianese & Gabriel Scheffler, Private Standards and the Benzene Case: A Teaching Guide, 72 Admin. L. Rev. 353-390 (2019)
- PowerPoint presentation: Cary Coglianese and Gabriel Scheffler, Private Standards and the Benzene Case
- The 1969 benzene standard: American Industrial Hygiene Association, USA Standard: Acceptable Concentrations of Benzene (ANSI ZX37.4-1969) (1969)*
- The Benzene Case: Industrial Union Department, AFL-CIO v. American Petroleum Institute , 448 U.S. 607 (1980)
- American National Standards Institute, Key Steps (2015)
- Emily S. Bremer, Course Module on Incorporation by Reference (this website)
- Thomas O. McGarity, The Story of the Benzene Case: Judicially Imposed Regulatory Reform Through Risk Assessment, in Richard Lazarus & Oliver Houck, eds., Environmental Law Stories (2011)
Mary Saunders (Vice President, Government Relations and Public Policy, American National Standards Institute [ANSI])
- What is the American National Standards Institute (ANSI)?
- How does ANSI accredit standard developers?
- What does “consensus” mean in the development of a voluntary consensus standard?
- What is an American National Standard?
* Permission is granted to the University of Pennsylvania Law School by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to use ANSI Z37.4-1969 for educational purposes only. Please note that ANSI Z37.4-1969 is an outdated and withdrawn standard and is no longer recognized or supported by the American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA). The original copyright holder, the United States of America Standards Institute (USASI), is no longer in business. ANSI Z37.4-1969 cannot be referred to as an American National Standard, an ANSI Standard, or a United States of America Standards Institute (USASI) standard.