News Feature | March 6, 2014

Idaho Next State To Question EPA Authority

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome


Unhappy with how the EPA is enforcing the Clean Water Act, some Idaho residents want to nullify the agency's authority. 

A group of Idaho gold dredgers and state senators say that the agency tried using the Clean Water Act "to eliminate dredging all together," the Daily Caller recently reported. As a result, Rep. Paul Shepherd introduced a bill into the state legislature that would defang the agency in the Potato State.

“It appears the EPA bureaucracy has an agenda in its interpretation of what pollution is,” Shepherd said, according to a Lewiston Tribune report. “They're saying if you pick up sand with a suction dredge, run it through and dump it back in the water, that's pollution. It's pretty much shutting [the dredgers] down. That's the main thing driving this, but the bill pertains to any regulations not approved by the people.”

Idaho is not the first state to question EPA authority. Water Online previously reported on Arizona’s attempt to nullify all EPA regulations.

A state’s desire to make independent decisions regarding environmental issues may be understandable in theory, but how would it play out in practice? "Members of the House State Affairs committee questioned the legality of the measure, but agreed it's a topic worthy of discussion," the Tribune said.

The proposal could be particularly tricky in Idaho because "unlike the U.S. Congress and most states, Idaho requires that the state legislature approve of all regulations being promulgated by state agencies," according to the Daily Caller.

Even some conservatives are unsure if nullification is good policy. “I hope this doesn’t undermine efforts to find a solution,” said Republican State Rep. Eric Anderson in the report. “Also, we codified many of these regulations into state law when we took primacy over the EPA programs, so this bill would be nullifying state law at the same time.”

The legislation took issue with whether EPA authority is constitutional.

“The legislature declares 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, and is hereby declared to be invalid in the state of Idaho, shall not be recognized by this state, is specifically rejected by this state and shall be considered null and void and of no force and effect in this state,” the bill said, according to an excerpt in the Daily Caller.

Image credit: "Idaho Potato Museum," © 2010 rayb777, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license:

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