The House has agreed unanimously to return HB 473 – the bill attempting to nullify the EPA’s regulatory authority in Idaho – to the House Resources Committee, at the request of Resources Chairman Lawerence Denney, R-Midvale. “I think that having this bill in front of us shows the level of frustration that many of our constituents have and feel about not only the EPA, but many of the federal agencies as well,” Denney told the House. “I believe that HB 473 does perhaps try to go too far and is very likely unconstitutional as written.”
He said dredge miners in the Riggins area are concerned, and local government officials weren’t consulted when the EPA began requiring a new NPDES permit last spring. “Perhaps a more appropriate bill would have said that new dredge mining regulations would not be enforced until the local government consultation process had been completed,” Denney said, and he asked to return the bill to committee.
Rep. Paul Shepherd, R-Riggins, sponsor of the bill, said, “I was warned I better be prepared about the legal problems with this bill, because if we’re going to try and have state authority over federal authority, we’ve run into problems with that before.” After recounting how he got the House and Senate Resources committees to hold a joint hearing earlier this session to hear the dredge miners’ concerns, and then proposed the bill, Shepherd yielded to Denney, saying, “Since there is this legal concern and maybe other issues, I’d like to yield at this time to our chairman of our resources committee."