JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (Dec. 17, 2019) – A bill prefiled in the Missouri Senate would prohibit enforcement of EPA rules and regulations unless they were first approved by the state legislature. This would set the foundation for the state to nullify them in practice within the state
Sen. Eric Burlison (R-Battlefield) filed Senate Bill 715 (SB715) for introduction in the 2020 legislative session. The proposed law would bar any department or agency of the state from enforcing any rule or regulation promulgated by the EPA within the borders of Missouri unless the enforcement of the regulation was approved by the general assembly.
SB715 would also require a review of all state regulations on the books prior to the enactment of the law that enforce an EPA rule or regulation.
“The committee shall refer all reviewed rules and regulations to the general assembly with a recommendation of whether such rule or regulation should be enforceable.”
In effect, SB715 would place all environmental regulations fully under state control, as it should be under the Constitution, and would effectively nullify EPA rules that the state chooses not to enforce.
Although states have found some relief from burdensome EPA rules under the Trump administration, Missouri should still act. Passage of SB715 would send a strong signal of support to the current administration for a continued rollback of onerous regulations, and it would thwart the enforcement of unconstitutional federal regulations that remain in place. It would also put a process in place to protect the state’s sovereignty when future administrations increase EPA regulations – as they undoubtedly will.
The federal government relies heavily on state cooperation to implement and enforce almost all of its laws, regulations and acts – including EPA rules. By simply withdrawing this necessary cooperation, states and localities can nullify many federal actions in effect. As noted by the National Governors’ Association during the partial government shutdown of 2013, “states are partners with the federal government on most federal programs.”
Based on James Madison’s advice for states and individuals in Federalist #46, a “refusal to cooperate with officers of the Union” represents an extremely effective method to bring down federal gun control measures because most enforcement actions rely on help, support and leadership from state and local governments.
Fox News senior judicial analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano agreed. In a televised discussion on the issue, he noted that a single state taking similar steps would make federal gun laws “nearly impossible” to enforce.
“Partnerships don’t work too well when half the team quits,” said Michael Boldin of the Tenth Amendment Center. “By withdrawing all resources and participation in EPA regulatory enforcement, states and even local governments can help bring these unconstitutional acts to their much-needed end.”
The state of Missouri can legally bar state agencies from enforcing EPA rules. Refusal to cooperate with federal enforcement rests on a well-established legal principle known as the anti-commandeering doctrine.
Simply put, the federal government cannot force states to help implement or enforce any federal act or program. The anti-commandeering doctrine is based primarily on five Supreme Court cases dating back to 1842. Printz v. U.S. serves as the cornerstone.
“We held in New York that Congress cannot compel the States to enact or enforce a federal regulatory program. Today we hold that Congress cannot circumvent that prohibition by conscripting the States’ officers directly. The Federal Government may neither issue directives requiring the States to address particular problems, nor command the States’ officers, or those of their political subdivisions, to administer or enforce a federal regulatory program. It matters not whether policy making is involved, and no case by case weighing of the burdens or benefits is necessary; such commands are fundamentally incompatible with our constitutional system of dual sovereignty”
SB715 will be officially introduced when the Missouri General Assembly convenes for its 2020 regular session on Jan. 8. At that time they will be referred to committees where the bills must pass by a majority vote before moving forward in the legislative process.