Idaho House Is Pretty Certain They Can Just Wish The Pesky EPA Away

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People of Idaho (looking at you, Dok Zoom), we're going to need to ask you to come collect your state legislators because they seem to have lost all sense of how laws actually work, and that's going to pose a problem for everyone really soon. Lawsplain at us about the problem, Think Progress lawyer guy.


Federal law is completely optional and Idaho can opt out of any laws it doesn’t like. Or, at least, that’s what several members of the Idaho state legislature appears to believe. On Thursday, the Idaho House Resources Committee approved a bill purporting to declare all Environmental Protection Agency regulations “null and void”.

The bill, which claims that “the regulation authority of the United States environmental protection agency is not authorized by the Constitution of the United States and violates its true meaning and intent as given by the founders and ratifiers,” is doubly unconstitutional. States do not have the unilateral authority to declare a law unconstitutional[.]

Man, you fancy east coast elites always trying to keep Idaho down with your rules and regulations about how there has to be an EPA and you can't destroy the environment and you can't just pick and choose what laws you follow. Everybody knows that the only things the Constitution addresses is your right to have guns anyhow anyplace anywhere and your right to require everyone to love Jesus because he founded these here United States and your god-given right to be super-butthurt if anyone tells you you're a bigot. That's it. Just those three things.

Sounds like some real luminaries showed up to speak in favor of this move.

Others who spoke railed against “environmental fruitcakes,” “tyrannical bullshit,” “people from back east” and “these big environmental groups.”

What? No "treehugger"? Idaho, we are disappoint. Though we are impressed with Idaho's commitment to the weirdly named "suction dredge mining." What the hell is suction dredge mining? We don't really know. We're going to go with something about suction and dredging. Actually we think it is how people pan for gold, which is sort of adorably old-timey. However, we do know that people in Idaho are very very mad that whatever it is requires a permit.

I have been mining in the same spot as my great-uncle and other family members,” Don Smith told the committee, “and I have to tell you, the violent high-water event of annual spring runoff makes my activities totally inconsequential.” He said, “When considering EPA rules, Congress has not spoken to this precise question at issue.” [...]

Others told the committee that the EPA shouldn’t be requiring the same permit for dredge miners as for those who discharge pollutants into waterways, because the dredgers just put the same sand and gravel back into the water that they took out. “Let’s get the EPA out of Idaho and get back to enjoying the gem state,” one told the lawmakers.

Yeah, what he said. In your FACE, Washington DC.

If you're not following what the hell sledge miner dude is on about up there, you'll be even more confused by another legislator's rationalization of why protecting sludge mining or sledging or dredging or whatever it is called is the most important issue facing America today.

“EPA just wants control, they want power,” Sen. Sheryl Nuxoll, R-Cottonwood, told the committee. She said veterans are “precious to us,” and many veterans find it “soothing” to do recreational suction dredge mining. “They’re trying to control us, and they’re trying to control our vets also,” she said.

Yes, the entire goal of the EPA is to control veterans. We thought you knew? You guys, why didn't anyone tell Idaho what the EPA is for?

Look, this thing is so misguided and dumb that even Idaho's attorney general -- a man who we assume is not known for his wildly liberal stance on federal power over the states, an assumption we make mostly because he is Idaho's attorney general -- even THAT guy thinks this is completely unconstitutional.

In the attorney general’s opinion, Deputy Attorney General Brian Kane wrote that the bill “would, with almost certainty, be found unconstitutional.” In a six-page analysis, Kane wrote that many mistakenly believe the EPA was “created by executive order” rather than by Congress. Actually, he wrote, it was created by President Richard Nixon in 1970 under a specific clause in federal law, and then, as required, ratified by both houses of Congress - twice. Congress then delegated regulatory authority to the EPA through “numerous federal laws,” he wrote, and those laws have been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Sure, that sounds convincing, but who you gonna believe? Some fancy law man or the illustrious sponsor of this bill, Representative Paul Shepherd?

[T]hough a state Attorney General’s opinion says the measure’s unconstitutional. Rep. Paul Shepherd, R-Riggins, said, “I don’t happen to agree.” [...] “I think that the Supreme Court needs to go by their oath of office. The Supreme Court’s changing the Constitution.”

OK, so let's recap: the Idaho House believes that federal laws are optional, no matter what anyone tells them, and also veterans need to wreck the environment, for freedom and comfort, and also too the Supreme Court is betraying Idaho by not telling Congress they can't do the EPA. Nope, doesn't sound any less stupid when we summarize. We tried, we really did.

[Think Progress/Spokesman Review]

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