Justice O'Connor announced the judgment of the Court and delivered the opinion of the Court with respect to Parts I, III, and IV, and an opinion with respect to Part II in which The Chief Justice, Justice White, and Justice Scalia join.
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 licensing 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 pre-empted 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).
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 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. Occupational Safety and Health Review Comm'n, 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, 4566545666 (1986) (interim regulations); 54 Fed. Reg. 9294, 93209321 (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. § 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 must complete at least 24 hours of off-site instruction and one day of actual field experience. §§ 1910.120(e)(3)(ii) and (iii). On-site managers and supervisors directly responsible for hazardous waste operations must receive the same initial training as general employees, plus at least eight additional hours of specialized training on various health and safety
In 1988, while OSHA's interim hazardous waste regulations were in effect, the State of Illinois enacted the licensing acts at issue here. The laws are designated as acts "in relation to environmental protection," and their stated aim is to protect both employees and the general public by licensing hazardous waste equipment operators and laborers working at certain facilities. Both licensing acts require a license applicant to provide a certified record of at least 40 hours of training under an approved program conducted within Illinois, to pass a written examination, and to complete an annual refresher course of at least eight hours of instruction. Ill. Rev. Stat., ch. 111, ¶¶ 7705(c) and (e), 7706(c) and (d), 7707(b), 7805(c) and (e), 7806(b). In addition, applicants for a hazardous waste crane operator's license must submit "a certified record showing operation of equipment used in hazardous waste handling for a minimum of 4,000 hours." ¶ 7705(d). Employees who work without the proper license, and employers who knowingly permit an unlicensed employee to work, are subject to escalating fines for each offense. ¶¶ 7715, 7716, 7814.
The respondent in this case, National Solid Wastes Management Association (Association), is a national trade association of businesses that remove, transport, dispose, and handle waste material, including hazardous waste. The Association's members are subject to the OSH Act and OSHA regulations, and are therefore required to train, qualify, and certify their hazardous waste remediation workers. 29 CFR § 1910.120 (1991). For hazardous waste operations conducted in Illinois, certain of the workers employed by the Association's members are also required to obtain licenses
Shortly before the state licensing acts were due to go into effect, the Association brought a declaratory judgment action in United States District Court against Bernard Killian, the former Director of the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency (IEPA); petitioner Mary Gade is Killian's successor in office and has been substituted as a party pursuant to this Court's Rule 35.3. The Association sought to enjoin IEPA from enforcing the Illinois licensing acts, claiming that the acts were pre-empted by the OSH Act and OSHA regulations and that they violated the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution. The District Court held that state laws that attempt to regulate workplace safety and health are not pre-empted by the OSH Act when the laws have a "legitimate and substantial purpose apart from promoting job safety." App. to Pet. for Cert. 54. Applying this standard, the District Court held that the Illinois licensing acts were not pre-empted because each protected public safety in addition to promoting job safety. Id., at 56-57. The court indicated that it would uphold a state regulation implementing the 4,000-hour experience requirement, as long as it did not conflict with federal regulations, because it was reasonable to conclude that workers who satisfy the requirement "will be better skilled than those who do not; and better skilled means fewer accidents, which equals less risk to public safety and the environment." Id., at 59. At the same time, the District Court invalidated the requirement that applicants for a hazardous waste license be trained "within Illinois" on the ground that the provision did not contribute to Illinois' stated purpose of protecting public safety. Id., at 57-58. The court declined to consider the
On appeal, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit affirmed in part and reversed in part. National Solid Wastes Management Assn. v. Killian, 918 F.2d 671 (1990). The Court of Appeals held that the OSH Act pre-empts all state law that "constitutes, in a direct, clear and substantial way, regulation of worker health and safety," unless the Secretary has explicitly approved the state law. Id., at 679. Because many of the regulations mandated by the Illinois licensing acts had not yet reached their final form, the Court of Appeals remanded the case to the District Court without considering which, if any, of the Illinois provisions would be pre-empted. Id., at 684. The court made clear, however, its view that Illinois "cannot regulate worker health and safety under the guise of environmental regulation," and it rejected the District Court's conclusion that the State's 4,000-hour experience requirement could survive preemption simply because the rule might also enhance public health and safety. Ibid. Writing separately, Judge Easterbrook expressed doubt that the OSH Act pre-empts nonconflicting state laws. Id., at 685-688. He concluded, however, that if the OSH Act does pre-empt state law, the majority had employed an appropriate test for determining whether the Illinois licensing acts were superseded. Id., at 688.
We granted certiorari, 502 U.S. 1012 (1991), to resolve a conflict between the decision below and decisions in which other Courts of Appeals have found the OSH Act to have a much narrower pre-emptive effect on "dual impact" state regulations. See Associated Industries of Massachusetts v. Snow, 898 F.2d 274, 279 (CA1 1990); Environmental Encapsulating Corp. v. New York City, 855 F.2d 48, 57 (CA2 1988); Manufacturers Assn. of Tri-County v. Knepper, 801 F.2d 130, 138 (CA3 1986), cert. denied, 484 U.S. 815 (1987); New
Before addressing the scope of the OSH Act's pre-emption of dual impact state regulations, we consider petitioner's threshold argument, drawn from Judge Easterbrook's separate opinion below, that the Act does not pre-empt nonconflicting state regulations at all. "[T]he question whether a certain state action is pre-empted by federal law is one of congressional intent. ` "The purpose of Congress is the ultimate touchstone."` " Allis-Chalmers Corp. v. Lueck, 471 U.S. 202, 208 (1985) (quoting Malone v. White Motor Corp., 435 U.S. 497, 504 (1978)). "To discern Congress' intent we examine the explicit statutory language and the structure and purpose of the statute." Ingersoll-Rand Co. v. McClendon, 498 U.S. 133, 138 (1990); see also FMC Corp. v. Holliday, 498 U.S. 52, 56-57 (1990).
In the OSH Act, Congress endeavored "to assure so far as possible every working man and woman in the Nation safe and healthful working conditions." 29 U. S. C. § 651(b). To that end, Congress authorized the Secretary of Labor to set mandatory occupational safety and health standards applicable to all businesses affecting interstate commerce, 29 U. S. C. § 651(b)(3), and thereby brought the Federal Government into a field that traditionally had been occupied by the States. Federal regulation of the workplace was not intended to be all encompassing, however. First, Congress expressly saved two areas from federal pre-emption. Section 4(b)(4) of the OSH Act states that the Act does not "supersede or in any manner affect any workmen's compensation law or . . . enlarge or diminish or affect in any other manner the common law or statutory rights, duties, or liabilities of employers and employees under any law with respect to injuries, diseases, or death of employees arising out of, or in the course of, employment." 29 U. S. C. § 653(b)(4). Section 18(a) provides that the Act does not "prevent any State
Congress not only reserved certain areas to state regulation, but it also, in § 18(b) of the Act, gave the States the option of pre-empting federal regulation entirely. That section provides:
About half the States have received the Secretary's approval for their own state plans as described in this provision. 29 CFR pts. 1952, 1956 (1991). Illinois is not among them.
In the decision below, the Court of Appeals held that § 18(b) "unquestionably" pre-empts any state law or regulation that establishes an occupational health and safety standard on an issue for which OSHA has already promulgated a standard, unless the State has obtained the Secretary's approval for its own plan. 918 F. 2d, at 677. Every other federal and state court confronted with an OSH Act pre-emption challenge has reached the same conclusion,
& Absent explicit pre-emptive language, 141, 152-153 (1982). we have recognized at least two types of implied preemption: field pre-emption, where the scheme of federal regulation is "`so pervasive as to make reasonable the inference that Congress left no room for the States to supplement it,' " id., at 153 (quoting Rice v. Santa Fe Elevator Corp., 331 U.S. 218, 230 (1947)), and conflict pre-emption, where "compliance with both federal and state regulations is a physical impossibility," Florida Lime & Avocado Growers, Inc. v. Paul, 373 U.S. 132, 142-143 (1963), or where state law "stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress," Hines v. Davidowitz, 312 U.S. 52, 67 (1941); Felder v. Casey, 487 U.S. 131, 138 (1988); Perez v. Campbell, 402 U.S. 637, 649 (1971).
Our ultimate task in any pre-emption case is to determine whether state regulation is consistent with the structure and purpose of the statute as a whole. Looking to "the provisions of the whole law, and to its object and policy," Pilot Life Ins. Co. v. Dedeaux, 481 U.S. 41, 51 (1987) (internal quotation marks and citations omitted), we hold that nonapproved state regulation of occupational safety and health issues
The principal indication that Congress intended to preempt state law is § 18(b)'s statement that a State "shall" submit a plan if it wishes to "assume responsibility" for "development and enforcement . . . of occupational safety and health standards relating to any occupational safety or health issue with respect to which a Federal standard has been promulgated." The unavoidable implication of this provision is that a State may not enforce its own occupational safety and health standards without obtaining the Secretary's approval, and petitioner concedes that § 18(b) would require an approved plan if Illinois wanted to "assume responsibility" for the regulation of occupational safety and health within the State. Petitioner contends, however, that an approved plan is necessary only if the State wishes completely to replace the federal regulations, not merely to supplement them. She argues that the correct interpretation of § 18(b) is that posited by Judge Easterbrook below: i. e., a State may either "oust" the federal standard by submitting a state plan to the Secretary for approval or "add to" the federal standard without seeking the Secretary's approval. 918 F. 2d, at 685 (Easterbrook, J., dubitante ).
Petitioner's interpretation of § 18(b) might be plausible were we to interpret that provision in isolation, but it simply is not tenable in light of the OSH Act's surrounding provisions. "[W]e must not be guided by a single sentence or member of a sentence, but look to the provisions of the whole law." Dedeaux, supra, at 51 (internal quotation marks and
Cutting against petitioner's interpretation of § 18(b) is the language of § 18(a), which saves from pre-emption any state law regulating an occupational safety and health issue with respect to which no federal standard is in effect. 29 U. S. C. § 667(a). Although this is a saving clause, not a pre-emption clause, the natural implication of this provision is that state laws regulating the same issue as federal laws are not saved, even if they merely supplement the federal standard. Moreover, if petitioner's reading of § 18(b) were correct, and if a State were free to enact nonconflicting safety and health regulations, then § 18(a) would be superfluous: There is no possibility of conflict where there is no federal regulation. Because "[i]t is our duty `to give effect, if possible, to every clause and word of a statute,' " United States v. Menasche, 348 U.S. 528, 538-539 (1955) (quoting Montclair v. Ramsdell, 107 U.S. 147, 152 (1883)), we conclude that § 18(a)'s preservation of state authority in the absence of a federal standard presupposes a background pre-emption of all state occupational safety and health standards whenever a federal standard governing the same issue is in effect.
Our understanding of the implications of § 18(b) is likewise bolstered by § 18(c) of the Act, 29 U. S. C. § 667(c), which sets forth the conditions that must be satisfied before the Secretary can approve a plan submitted by a State under subsection (b). State standards that affect interstate commerce will be approved only if they "are required by compelling local conditions" and "do not unduly burden interstate commerce." § 667(c)(2). If a State could supplement federal regulations without undergoing the § 18(b) approval process, then the protections that § 18(c) offers to interstate commerce
Section 18(f) also confirms our view that States are not permitted to assume an enforcement role without the Secretary's approval, unless no federal standard is in effect. That provision gives the Secretary the authority to withdraw her approval of a state plan. 29 U. S. C. § 667(f). Once approval is withdrawn, the plan "cease[s] to be in effect" and the State is permitted to assert jurisdiction under its occupational health and safety law only for those cases "commenced before the withdrawal of the plan." Ibid. Under petitioner's reading of § 18(b), § 18(f) should permit the continued exercise of state jurisdiction over purely "supplemental" and nonconflicting standards. Instead, § 18(f) assumes that the State loses the power to enforce all of its occupational safety and health standards once approval is withdrawn.
The same assumption of exclusive federal jurisdiction in the absence of an approved state plan is apparent in the transitional provisions contained in § 18(h) of the Act. 29 U. S. C. § 667(h). Section 18(h) authorized the Secretary of Labor, during the first two years after passage of the Act, to enter into an agreement with a State by which the State would be permitted to continue to enforce its own occupational health and safety standards for two years or until final action was taken by the Secretary pursuant to § 18(b), whichever was earlier. Significantly, § 18(h) does not say that such an agreement is only necessary when the State wishes fully to supplant federal standards. Indeed, the original Senate version of the provision would have allowed a State to enter into such an agreement only when it wished to enforce standards "not in conflict with Federal occupational health and safety standards," a category which included "any State occupational health and safety standard which provides
Looking at the provisions of § 18 as a whole, we conclude that the OSH Act precludes 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). Our review of the Act persuades us that Congress sought to promote occupational safety and health while at the same time avoiding duplicative, and possibly counterproductive, regulation. It thus established a system of uniform federal occupational health and safety standards, but gave States the option of pre-empting federal regulations by developing their own occupational safety and health programs. In addition, Congress offered the States substantial federal grant moneys to assist them in developing their own programs. See OSH Act § 23, 29 U. S. C. §§ 672(a), (b), and (f) (for three years following enactment, the Secretary may award up to 90% of the costs to a State of developing a state occupational safety
We cannot accept petitioner's argument that the OSH Act does not pre-empt nonconflicting state laws because those laws, like the Act, are designed to promote worker safety. In determining whether state law "stands as an obstacle" to the full implementation of a federal law, Hines v. Davidowitz, 312 U. S., at 67, "it is not enough to say that the ultimate goal of both federal and state law" is the same, International Paper Co. v. Ouellette, 479 U.S. 481, 494 (1987). "A state law also is pre-empted if it interferes with the methods by which the federal statute was designed to reach th[at] goal." Ibid.; see also Michigan Canners & Freezers Assn., Inc. v. Agricultural Marketing and Bargaining Bd., 467 U.S. 461, 477 (1984) (state statute establishing association to represent agricultural producers pre-empted even though it and the federal Agricultural Fair Practices Act "share the goal of augmenting the producer's bargaining power"); Wisconsin Dept. of Industry v. Gould Inc., 475 U.S. 282, 286-287 (1986) (state statute preventing three-time violators of the National Labor Relations Act from doing business with the State is pre-empted even though state law was designed to reinforce requirements of federal Act). The OSH Act does not foreclose a State from enacting its own laws to advance the goal of worker safety, but it does restrict the ways in which it can do so. If a State wishes to regulate an issue of worker safety for which a federal standard is in effect, its
Petitioner next argues that, even if Congress intended to pre-empt all nonapproved state occupational safety and health regulations whenever a federal standard is in effect, the OSH Act's pre-emptive effect should not be extended to state laws that address public safety as well as occupational safety concerns. As we explained in Part II, we understand
The OSH Act defines an "occupational safety and health standard" as "a standard which requires conditions, or the adoption or use of one or more practices, means, methods, operations, or processes, reasonably necessary or appropriate to provide safe or healthful employment and places of employment." 29 U. S. C. § 652(8). Any state law requirement designed to promote health and safety in the workplace falls neatly within the Act's definition of an "occupational safety and health standard." Clearly, under this definition, a state law that expressly declares a legislative purpose of regulating occupational health and safety would, in the absence of an approved state plan, be pre-empted by an OSHA standard regulating the same subject matter. But petitioner asserts that if the state legislature articulates a purpose other than (or in addition to) workplace health and safety, then the OSH Act loses its pre-emptive force. We disagree.
Although "part of the pre-empted field is defined by reference to the purpose of the state law in question, . . . another part of the field is defined by the state law's actual effect." English v. General Electric Co., 496 U.S. 72, 84 (1990) (citing Pacific Gas & Elec. Co. v. State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Comm'n, 461 U.S. 190, 212-213 (1983)). In assessing the impact of a state law on the federal scheme, we have refused to rely solely on the legislature's professed purpose and have looked as well to the effects of the law. As we explained over two decades ago:
See also Florida Lime & Avocado Growers, Inc. v. Paul, 373 U. S., at 141-142 (focus on "whether the purposes of the two laws are parallel or divergent" tends to "obscure more than aid" in determining whether state law is pre-empted by federal law) (emphasis deleted); Hughes v. Oklahoma, 441 U.S. 322, 336 (1979) ("[W]hen considering the purpose of a challenged statute, this Court is not bound by `[t]he name, description or characterization given it by the legislature or the courts of the State,' but will determine for itself the practical impact of the law") (quoting Lacoste v. Department of Conservation of Louisiana, 263 U.S. 545, 550 (1924)); Napier v. Atlantic Coast Line R. Co., 272 U.S. 605, 612 (1926) (pre-emption analysis turns not on whether federal and state laws "are aimed at distinct and different evils" but whether they "operate upon the same object").
Our precedents leave no doubt that a dual impact state regulation cannot avoid OSH Act pre-emption simply because the regulation serves several objectives rather than one. As the Court of Appeals observed, "[i]t would defeat the purpose of section 18 if a state could enact measures stricter than OSHA's and largely accomplished through regulation of worker health and safety simply by asserting a nonoccupational purpose for the legislation." 918 F. 2d, at 679.
In English v. General Electric Co., supra, we held that a state tort claim brought by an employee of a nuclear-fuels production facility against her employer was not pre-empted by a federal whistle-blower provision because the state law did not have a "direct and substantial effect" on the federal scheme. Id., at 85. In the decision below, the Court of Appeals relied on English to hold that, in the absence of the approval of the Secretary, the OSH Act pre-empts all state law that "constitutes, in a direct, clear and substantial way, regulation of worker health and safety." 918 F. 2d, at 679. We agree that this is the appropriate standard for determining OSH Act pre-emption. On the other hand, state laws of general applicability (such as laws regarding traffic safety or fire safety) that do not conflict with OSHA standards and that regulate the conduct of workers and nonworkers alike would generally not be pre-empted. Although some laws of general applicability may have a "direct and substantial" effect on worker safety, they cannot fairly be characterized as "occupational" standards, because they regulate workers simply as members of the general public. In this case, we agree with the court below that a law directed at workplace safety is not saved from pre-emption simply because the State can demonstrate some additional effect outside of the workplace.
In sum, 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 Act. That such a law may also have a nonoccupational impact does not render it any less of an occupational standard for purposes of pre-emption analysis.
We recognize that "the States have a compelling interest in the practice of professions within their boundaries, and that as part of their power to protect the public health, safety, and other valid interests they have broad power to establish standards for licensing practitioners and regulating the practice of professions." Goldfarb v. Virginia State Bar, 421 U.S. 773, 792 (1975); see also Ferguson v. Skrupa, 372 U.S. 726, 731 (1963); Dent v. West Virginia, 129 U.S. 114, 122 (1889). But under the Supremacy Clause, from which our pre-emption doctrine is derived, "`any state law, however clearly within a State's acknowledged power, which interferes with or is contrary to federal law, must yield.'" Felder v. Casey, 487 U. S., at 138 (quoting Free v. Bland, 369 U.S. 663, 666 (1962)); see also De Canas v. Bica, 424 U.S. 351, 357 (1976) ("[E]ven state regulation designed to protect vital state interests must give way to paramount federal legislation"). We therefore reject petitioner's argument that the State's interest in licensing various occupations can save from OSH Act pre-emption those provisions that directly and substantially affect workplace safety.
We also reject petitioner's argument that the Illinois licensing acts do not regulate occupational safety and health at all, but are instead a "pre-condition" to employment. By that reasoning, the OSHA regulations themselves would not be considered occupational standards. SARA, however, 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. See supra, at 92. Because neither
The judgment of the Court of Appeals is hereby
Justice Kennedy, concurring in part and concurring in the judgment.
Though I concur in the Court's judgment and with the ultimate conclusion that the state law is pre-empted, I would find express pre-emption from the terms of the federal statute. I cannot agree that we should denominate this case as one of implied pre-emption. The contrary view of the plurality is based on an undue expansion of our implied preemption jurisprudence which, in my view, is neither wise nor necessary.
As both the majority and dissent acknowledge, we have identified three circumstances in which a federal statute preempts state law: First, Congress can adopt express language defining the existence and scope of pre-emption. Second, state law is pre-empted where Congress creates a scheme of federal regulation so pervasive as to leave no room for supplementary state regulation. And third, "state law is pre-empted to the extent that it actually conflicts with federal law." English v. General Electric Co., 496 U.S. 72, 78-79 (1990); ante, at 98; post, at 115. This third form of pre-emption, so-called actual conflict pre-emption, occurs either "where it is impossible for a private party to comply with both state and federal requirements . . . or where state law `stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress.'" Eng-
Our decisions establish that a high threshold must be met if a state law is to be pre-empted for conflicting with the purposes of a federal Act. Any conflict must be "irreconcilable . . . . The existence of a hypothetical or potential conflict is insufficient to warrant the pre-emption of the state statute." Rice v. Norman Williams Co., 458 U.S. 654, 659 (1982); see also English, supra, at 90 ("The `teaching of this Court's decisions . . . enjoin[s] seeking out conflicts between state and federal regulation where none clearly exists' " (quoting Huron Portland Cement Co. v. Detroit, 362 U.S. 440, 446 (1960)); Pacific Gas & Elec. Co. v. State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Comm'n, 461 U.S. 190, 222-223 (1983). In my view, this type of pre-emption should be limited to state laws which impose prohibitions or obligations which are in direct contradiction to Congress' primary objectives, as conveyed with clarity in the federal legislation.
I do not believe that supplementary state regulation of an occupational safety and health issue can be said to create the sort of actual conflict required by our decisions. The purpose of state supplementary regulation, like the federal standards promulgated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), is to protect worker safety and health. Any potential tension between a scheme of federal regulation of the workplace and a concurrent, supplementary state scheme would not, in my view, rise to the level
The plurality's broad view of actual conflict pre-emption is contrary to two basic principles of our pre-emption jurisprudence. First, we begin "with the assumption that the historic police powers of the States [are] not to be superseded. . . unless that was the clear and manifest purpose of Congress." Rice v. Santa Fe Elevator Corp., 331 U.S. 218, 230 (1947); see also ante, at 96. Second, "`[t]he purpose of Congress is the ultimate touchstone' " in all pre-emption cases. Malone v. White Motor Corp., 435 U.S. 497, 504 (1978) (quoting Retail Clerks v. Schermerhorn, 375 U.S. 96, 103 (1963)). A freewheeling judicial inquiry into whether a state statute is in tension with federal objectives would undercut the principle that it is Congress rather than the courts that preempts state law.
Nonetheless, I agree with the Court that "the OSH Act pre-empts all state `occupational safety and health standards relating to any occupational safety or health issue with respect to which a Federal standard has been promulgated.'" Ante, at 105 (quoting 29 U. S. C. § 667(b)). I believe, however, that this result is mandated by the express terms of § 18(b) of the OSH Act. It follows from this that the preemptive scope of the Act is also limited to the language of the statute. When the existence of pre-emption is evident from the statutory text, our inquiry must begin and end with the statutory framework itself.
A finding of express pre-emption in this case is not contrary to our longstanding rule that we will not infer preemption of the States' historic police powers absent a clear
As the plurality's analysis amply demonstrates, ante, at 98-103, Congress has addressed the issue of pre-emption in the OSH Act. The dissent's position that the Act does not pre-empt supplementary state regulation becomes most implausible when the language of § 18(b) is considered in conjunction with the other provisions of § 18. Section 18(b) provides as follows:
The statute is clear: When a State desires to assume responsibility for an occupational safety and health issue already addressed by the Federal Government, it must submit a state plan. The most reasonable inference from this language is that when a State does not submit and secure approval
In this regard I disagree with the dissent, see post, p. 114, and find unconvincing its conclusion that Congress intended to allow concurrent state and federal jurisdiction over occupational safety and health issues. The dissent would give the States, rather than the Federal Government, the power to decide whether as to any particular occupational safety and health issue there will exist a single or dual regulatory scheme. Under this theory the State may choose exclusive federal jurisdiction by not regulating; or exclusive state jurisdiction by submitting a state plan; or dual regulation by adopting supplementary rules, as Illinois did here. That position undermines the authority of OSHA in many respects. For example, § 18(c)(2) of the OSH Act allows OSHA to disapprove state plans which "unduly burden interstate commerce." The dissent would eviscerate this important administrative mechanism by allowing the States to sidestep OSHA's authority through the mechanism of supplementary regulation. See post, at 118-121. Furthermore, concurrent state and federal jurisdiction might interfere with the enforcement of the federal regulations without creating a situation where compliance with both schemes is a physical impossibility, which the dissent would require for pre-emption. Post, at 121; see also Brief for Respondent 32-33. I would not attribute to Congress the intent to create such a hodgepodge scheme of authority. My views in
The necessary implication of finding express pre-emption in this case is that the pre-emptive scope of the OSH Act is defined by the language of § 18(b). Because this provision requires federal approval of state occupational safety and health standards alone, only state laws fitting within that description are pre-empted. For that reason I agree with the Court that state laws of general applicability are not preempted. Ante, at 107. I also agree that "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 Act," ibid., and therefore falls within the scope of pre-emption. Socalled "dual impact" state regulations which meet this standard are pre-empted by the OSH Act, regardless of any additional purpose the law may serve, or effect the law may have, outside the workplace. As a final matter, I agree that the Illinois Acts are not saved because they operate through a licensing mechanism rather than through direct regulation of the workplace. I therefore join all but Part II of the Court's opinion, and concur in the judgment of the Court.
Justice Souter, with whom Justice Blackmun, Justice Stevens, and Justice Thomas join, dissenting.
The Court holds today that § 18 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (Act), 29 U. S. C. § 667, pre-empts state regulation of any occupational safety or health issue as
Our cases recognize federal pre-emption of state law in three variants: express pre-emption, field pre-emption, and conflict pre-emption. Express pre-emption requires "explicit pre-emptive language." See Pacific Gas & Elec. Co. v. State Energy Resources Conservation and Development Comm'n, 461 U.S. 190, 203 (1983), citing Jones v. Rath Packing Co., 430 U.S. 519, 525 (1977). Field pre-emption is wrought by a manifestation of congressional intent to occupy an entire field such that even without a federal rule on some particular matter within the field, state regulation on that matter is pre-empted, leaving it untouched by either state or federal law. 461 U. S., at 204. Finally, there is conflict preemption in either of two senses. The first is found when compliance with both state and federal law is impossible, ibid., the second when a state law "stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress," Hines v. Davidowitz, 312 U.S. 52, 67 (1941).
The plurality today finds pre-emption of this last sort, discerning a conflict between any state legislation on a given issue as to which a federal standard is in effect, and a congressional purpose "to subject employers and employees to only one set of regulations." Ante, at 99. Thus, under the plurality's reading, any regulation on an issue as to which a federal standard has been promulgated has been pre-empted. As one commentator has observed, this kind of purposeconflict pre-emption, which occurs when state law is held to
Analysis begins with the presumption that "Congress did not intend to displace state law." Maryland v. Louisiana, 451 U.S. 725, 746 (1981). "Where, as here, the field which Congress is said to have pre-empted has been traditionally occupied by the States, see, e. g., U. S. Const., Art. I, § 10; Patapsco Guano Co. v. North Carolina, 171 U.S. 345, 358 (1898), `we start with the assumption that the historic police powers of the States were not to be superseded by the Federal Act unless that was the clear and manifest purpose of Congress.' Rice v. Santa Fe Elevator Corp., 331 U.S. 218, 230 (1947). This assumption provides assurance that the `federal-state balance,' United States v. Bass, 404 U.S. 336, 349 (1971), will not be disturbed unintentionally by Congress or unnecessarily by the courts. But when Congress has `unmistakably . . . ordained,' Florida Lime & Avocado Growers, Inc. v. Paul, 373 U.S. 132, 142 (1963), that its enactments alone are to regulate a part of commerce, state laws regulating that aspect of commerce must fall." Jones, supra, at 525. Subject to this principle, the enquiry into the possibly pre-emptive effect of federal legislation is an exercise of statutory construction. If the statute's terms can be read sensibly
At first blush, respondent's strongest argument might seem to rest on § 18(a) of the Act, 29 U. S. C. § 667(a), the full text of which is this:
That is to say, where there is no federal standard in effect, there is no pre-emption. The plurality reasons that there must be pre-emption, however, when there is a federal standard in effect, else § 18(a) would be rendered superfluous because "[t]here is no possibility of conflict where there is no federal regulation." Ante, at 100.
The plurality errs doubly. First, its premise is incorrect. In the sense in which the plurality uses the term, there is the possibility of "conflict" even absent federal regulation since the mere enactment of a federal law like the Act may amount to an occupation of an entire field, preventing state regulation. Second, the necessary implication of § 18(a) is not that every federal regulation pre-empts all state law on the issue in question, but only that some federal regulations may pre-empt some state law. The plurality ignores the possibility that the provision simply rules out field preemption and is otherwise entirely compatible with the possibility that pre-emption will occur only when actual conflict between a federal regulation and a state rule renders compliance with both impossible. Indeed, if Congress had meant to say that any state rule should be pre-empted if it deals
Respondent also relies on § 18(b), 29 U. S. C. § 667(b):
Respondent argues that the necessary implication of this provision is clear: the only way that a state rule on a particular occupational safety and health issue may be enforced once a federal standard on the issue is also in place is by incorporating the state rule in a plan approved by the Secretary.
As both the plurality and Justice Kennedy acknowledge, however, that is not the necessary implication of § 18(b).
Nor does the provision setting out conditions for the Secretary's approval of a plan indicate that a state regulation on an issue federally addressed is never enforceable unless incorporated in a plan so approved. Subsection (c)(2) requires the Secretary to approve a plan when in her judgment, among other things, it will not "unduly burden interstate commerce." 29 U. S. C. § 667(c)(2). Respondent argues, and the plurality concludes, that if state regulations were not pre-empted, this provision would somehow suggest
The final provision that arguably suggests pre-emption merely by promulgation of a federal standard is § 18(h), 29 U. S. C. § 667(h):
"(h) Temporary enforcement of State standards
This provision of course expired in 1972, but its language may suggest something about the way Congress understood the rest of § 18. Since, all are agreed, a State would not have had reason to file a plan unless a federal standard was in place, § 18(h) necessarily refers to a situation in which there is a federal standard. Respondent argues that the provision for agreements authorizing continued enforcement of a state standard following adoption of a federal standard on the issue it addresses implies that, absent such agreement,
Once again, however, that is not the necessary implication of the text. A purely permissive provision for enforcement of state regulations does not imply that all state regulations are otherwise unenforceable. All it necessarily means is that the Secretary could agree to permit the State for a limited time to enforce whatever state regulations would otherwise have been pre-empted, as would have been true when they actually so conflicted with the federal standard that an employer could not comply with them and still comply with federal law as well. Thus, in the case of a State wishing to submit a plan, the provision as I read it would have allowed for the possibility of just one transition, from the pre-Act state law to the post-Act state plan. Read as the Court reads it, however, employers and employees in such a State would have been subjected first to state law on a given issue; then, after promulgation of a federal standard, to that standard; and then, after approval of the plan, to a new state regime. One enforced readjustment would have been better than two, and the statute is better read accordingly.
In sum, our rule is that the traditional police powers of the State survive unless Congress has made a purpose to
Briefs of amici curiae urging affirmance were filed for the Chamber of Commerce of the United States by Glen D. Nager, Robert C. Gombar, Stephen A. Bokat, Robin S. Conrad, and Mona C. Zeiberg; for the Flavor & Extract Manufacturers' Association et al. by Daniel R. Thompson and John P. McKenna; and for the Washington Legal Foundation by Daniel J. Popeo and Richard A. Samp.