USING STATES TO PROTECT MINING RIGHTS
Now that Obama has won reelection, many businesses, including
the mining industry, are bracing for a storm of new regulations
that will cripple the economy. No doubt, many of those will be
directed towards mining and coal.
However, the industry isn't defenseless against the federal government.
Thanks to our system of federal government, where states are also
sovereign, pro-freedom lawyers are finding ways to restrict the
actions of federal regulators - ways that the courts have ruled
are constitutional. The Goldwater Institute in Arizona has led
the way in recommending ways for states to restrict the federal
government and increase freedom for individuals and businesses.
Here are some methods that states can use.
Reinvigorate Reserved Powers. The Tenth Amendment says that powers
not listed in the U.S. Constitution belong to the states. States
can pass laws that invoke those reserved powers and prevent the
federal government from commandeering state officials in order
to enforce federal laws or regulations. This principle has been
upheld regularly by the US Supreme Court, as recently as the ObamaCare
ruling that held that states didn't have to comply with ObamaCare
mandates or laws. What that means is that a federal law or regulation
on mining can't require a state or its officials to enforce it
if the state refuses to enforce it.
Coordination. Many federal agencies are governed by laws that
contain "coordination" provisions. State and local governments
can limit the impact of new federal regulations by requiring federal
agencies to coordinate with existing local laws, regulations,
plans, and policies. In the case of the mining industry, this
forces federal mining regulators to work with pro-mining state
agencies and follow their rules.
Expand Civil Rights Laws. Because state sovereignty is a protection
the U.S. Constitution guarantees to all Americans, states can
enact civil rights laws to protect that right and enable individuals
and businesses to sue the federal government when they disregard
state sovereignty and the civil rights provided by that state.
One example has been the action by several states to guarantee
the right of a secret ballot to workers voting on union representation.
This can extend to property rights, which is one area federal
mining regulations frequently disregard.
Interstate Compacts. Interstate compacts are contracts between
two or more states. Compacts can be used to protect individual
rights and state sovereignty, and they don't always need congressional
approval. Interstate compacts are being considered to prevent
the federal government from enforcing key provisions of the federal
health care bill, or from infringing on Second Amendment rights.
Sue the Federal Government. States can enact laws that protect
individual and business rights and take the federal government
to court to defend those laws. States can also create independent
Constitutional Defense Councils that have the authority and funding
to defend state sovereignty in court.
Refuse Conditional Grants. States can limit or eliminate the
power of state and local officials to accept federal grants that
require the state or local government to give more control over
local decision-making to Washington. Just stopping environmental
grants would stop considerable interference with lawful land use
Amend the Constitution. State legislatures were given the same
power as Congress to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution.
States can initiate the process by proposing amendments to the
U.S. Constitution that would limit the size, scope, and intrusiveness
of the federal government.
We may be stuck with the Obama Administration for the next four
years, but we don't have to give them any more power than that
granted by the U.S. Constitution. The Supreme Court has constantly
upheld the rights of the states and this is the time that the
mining industry needs to make use of them. By working with state
legislatures we can limit the reach and scope of their regulatory