505 U.S. 88 (1992), 90-1676, Gade v. National Solid Wastes Management Association

Docket Nº:No. 90-1676
Citation:505 U.S. 88, 112 S.Ct. 2374, 120 L.Ed.2d 73, 60 U.S.L.W. 4587
Party Name:Gade v. National Solid Wastes Management Association
Case Date:June 18, 1992
Court:United States Supreme Court
 
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505 U.S. 88 (1992)

112 S.Ct. 2374, 120 L.Ed.2d 73, 60 U.S.L.W. 4587

Gade

v.

National Solid Wastes Management Association

No. 90-1676

United States Supreme Court

June 18, 1992

Argued March 23, 1992

CERTIORARI TO THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS

FOR THE SEVENTH CIRCUIT

Syllabus

Pursuant to authority contained in the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSH Act or Act), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) promulgated regulations implementing a requirement of the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986 (SARA) that standards be set for the initial and routine training of workers who handle hazardous wastes. Subsequently, Illinois enacted two acts requiring the licensing of workers at certain hazardous waste facilities. Each state act has the dual purpose of protecting workers and the general public and requires workers to meet specified training and examination requirements. Claiming, among other things, that the acts were preempted by the OSH Act and OSHA regulations, respondent, an association of businesses involved in, inter alia, hazardous waste management, sought injunctive relief against petitioner Gade's predecessor as director of the state environmental protection agency to prevent enforcement of the state acts. The District Court held that the state acts were not preempted, because they protected public safety in addition to promoting job safety, but it [112 S.Ct. 2378] invalidated some provisions of the acts. The Court of Appeals affirmed in part and reversed in part, holding that the OSH Act preempts all state law that "constitutes, in a direct, clear and substantial way, regulation of worker health and safety," unless the Secretary of Labor has explicitly approved the law pursuant to § 18 of the OSH Act. In remanding, the court did not consider which, if any, of the provisions would be preempted.

Held: The judgment is affirmed.

918 F.2d 671, (CA7 1990), affirmed.

JUSTICE O'CONNOR delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, III, and IV, concluding that:

1. A state law requirement that directly, substantially, and specifically regulates occupational safety and health is an occupational safety and health standard within the meaning of the OSH Act regardless of whether it has another, nonoccupational purpose. In assessing a state law's impact on the federal scheme, this Court has refused to rely solely

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on the legislature's professed purpose, and has looked as well to the law's effects. See, e.g., Perez v. Campbell, 402 U.S. 637, 651-652. State laws of general applicability, such as traffic and fire safety laws, would generally not be preempted, because they regulate workers simply as members of the general public. Pp. 104-108.

2. The state licensing acts are preempted by the OSH Act to the extent that they establish occupational safety and health standards for training those who work with hazardous wastes. The Act's saving provisions are not implicated, and Illinois does not have an approved plan. Illinois' interest in establishing standards for licensing various occupations, cf., e.g., Goldfarb v. Virginia State Bar, 421 U.S. 773, 792, cannot save from OSH Act preemption those provisions that directly and substantially affect workplace safety, since any state law, however clearly within a State's acknowledged power, must yield if it interferes with or is contrary to federal law, Felder v. Casey, 487 U.S. 131, 138. Nor can the acts be saved from preemption by Gade's argument that they regulate a "precondition" to employment, rather than occupational safety and health, since SARA makes clear that the training of employees engaged in hazardous waste operations is an occupational safety and health issue, and that certification requirements before an employee may engage in such work are occupational safety and health standards. This Court does not specifically consider which of the licensing acts' provisions will be preempted under the foregoing analysis. P. 108-109.

JUSTICE O'CONNOR, joined by THE CHIEF JUSTICE, JUSTICE WHITE, and JUSTICE SCALIA, concluded in Part II that the OSH Act impliedly preempts any state regulation of an occupational safety or health issue with respect to which a federal standard has been established, unless a state plan has been submitted and approved pursuant to § 18(b) of the Act. The Act as a whole demonstrates that Congress intended to promote occupational safety and health while avoiding subjecting workers and employers to duplicative regulation. Thus, it established a system of uniform federal standards, but gave States the option of preempting the federal regulations entirely pursuant to an approved state plan that displaces the federal standards. This intent is indicated principally in § 18(b)'s statement that a State "shall" submit a plan if it wishes to "assume responsibility" for developing and enforcing health and safety standards. Gade's interpretation of § 18(b) -- that the Secretary's approval is required only if a State wishes to replace, not merely supplement, the federal regulations -- would be inconsistent with the federal scheme, and is untenable in light of the surrounding provisions. The language and purposes of §§ 18(a), (c), (f) and (h) all confirm the view that the States cannot assume an enforcement role without the Secretary's approval, unless no federal standard is in effect. Also unacceptable

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is Gade's argument that the OSH Act does not preempt nonconflicting state laws, because those laws, like the Act, are designed to promote worker safety. Even where such laws share a common goal, a state law will be preempted if it interferes with the methods by which a federal statute was intended to reach that goal. International Paper Co. v. Ouellette, 479 U.S. 481, 494. Here, the Act does not foreclose a State from enacting its own laws, but it does restrict the ways in which it can do so. Pp. 96-104.

JUSTICE KENNEDY, agreeing that the state laws are preempted, concluded that the result is mandated by the express terms of § 18(b) of the OSH Act, and that the scope of preemption is also defined by the statutory text. Such a finding is not contrary to the longstanding rule that this Court will not infer preemption of the States' historic police powers absent a clear statement of intent by Congress. Unartful though § 18(b)'s language may be, its structure and language, in conjunction with subsections (a), (c), and (f), leave little doubt that in the OSH Act Congress intended to preempt supplementary state regulation of an occupational safety and health issue with respect to which a federal standard exists. Pp. 111-113.

O'CONNOR, J., announced the judgment of the Court and delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, III, and IV, in which REHNQUIST, C.J., and WHITE, SCALIA, and KENNEDY, JJ., joined, and an opinion with respect to Part II, in which REHNQUIST, C.J., and WHITE and SCALIA, JJ., joined. KENNEDY, J., filed an opinion concurring in part and concurring in the judgment, post, p. 109. SOUTER, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which BLACKMUN, STEVENS, and THOMAS, JJ., joined, post, p. 114.

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O'CONNOR, J., lead opinion

JUSTICE O'CONNOR announced the judgment of the Court and delivered an opinion, Parts I, III, and IV of which represent the views of the Court, and Part II of which is joined by THE CHIEF JUSTICE, JUSTICE WHITE, and JUSTICE SCALIA.

In 1988, the Illinois General Assembly enacted the Hazardous Waste Crane and Hoisting Equipment Operators Licensing Act, Ill.Rev.Stat., ch. 111, ¶¶ 7701-7717 (1989), and the Hazardous Waste Laborers Licensing Act, Ill.Rev.Stat., ch. 111, ¶¶ 7801-7815 (1989) (together, licensing acts). The stated purpose of the acts is both "to promote job safety" and "to protect life, limb and property." 7702, 7802. In this case, we consider whether these "dual impact" statutes, which protect both workers and the general public, are preempted by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, 84 Stat. 1590, 29 U.S.C. § 651 et seq. (OSH Act), and the standards promulgated thereunder by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

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I

The OSH Act authorizes the Secretary of Labor to promulgate federal occupational safety and health standards. 29 U.S.C. § 655. In the Superfund Amendments and Reauthorization Act of 1986 (SARA), Congress directed the Secretary of Labor to "promulgate standards for the health and safety protection of employees engaged in hazardous waste operations" pursuant to her authority under the OSH Act. SARA, Pub.L. 99-499, Title I, § 126, 100 Stat. 1690-1692, codified at note following 29 U.S.C. § 655. In relevant part, SARA requires the Secretary to establish standards for the initial [112 S.Ct. 2380] and routine training of workers who handle hazardous wastes.

In response to this congressional directive, OSHA, to which the Secretary has delegated certain of her statutory responsibilities, see Martin v. OSHRC, 499 U.S. 144, 147, n. 1 (1991), promulgated regulations on "Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response," including detailed regulations on worker training requirements. 51 Fed.Reg. 45654, 45665-45666 (1986) (interim regulations); 54 Fed.Reg. 9294, 9320-9321 (1989) (final regulations), codified at 29 CFR § 1910.120 (1991). The OSHA regulations require, among other things, that workers engaged in an activity that may expose them to hazardous wastes receive a minimum of 40 hours of instruction off the site, and a minimum of three days actual field experience under the supervision of a trained supervisor. 29 CFR § 1910.120(e)(3)(i). Workers who are on the site only occasionally or who are working in areas that have been determined to be under the permissible exposure limits...

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