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 itself.

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 power.