Ronald Reagan picture

Statement on Signing the Medical Waste Tracking Act of 1988

November 02, 1988

Today I am signing H.R. 3515, the "Medical Waste Tracking Act of 1988." This bill is an important step forward in the protection of our environment and public health because it will ensure that those who generate, handle, or dispose of medical waste are accountable, and it will encourage proper handling and disposal of such potentially dangerous waste. I am also pleased to sign this bill into law because it contains the explicit law enforcement authority for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which this Administration actively sought.

The enforcement provisions of this Act, however, must be read to respect the President's authority under Article II of the Constitution to direct his subordinates where necessary to resolve internal Executive branch disputes. Accordingly, I understand the provision in section 11006, which allows the President to exempt a Federal facility upon a determination that it is in the "paramount" interest of the United States, to complement his constitutional authority to require that administrative orders issued to Executive agencies under section 11005 have the concurrence of the President or his delegate.

In addition, the Attorney General may not authorize the EPA Administrator to bring a civil law suit against another Executive branch agency because all Executive agencies, including EPA, are accountable to the President. Such a law suit would not constitute a "case or controversy" for a court to resolve under Article III of the Constitution.

Section 11006 is objectionable because it permits State courts to exercise jurisdiction over Federal agencies. Although this grant of jurisdiction will in all likelihood be invoked only on rare occasions, and Federal defendants may remove an action to Federal court, this provision is unwise and may lead to unnecessary litigation.

I have also been advised that section 11007 of this bill, which authorizes States to take enforcement actions against any person "to the same extent as the Administrator," may raise serious constitutional problems. To the extent that Congress provided for States to prosecute crimes or exercise other executive branch authority, it could be inconsistent with the Appointments Clause of the Constitution.

Finally, section 11010(b) providing for exemption of the Act's implementing regulations from the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1980 is inappropriate. The Paperwork Reduction Act affords the public an important opportunity for comment and protects citizens and businesses from overly burdensome reporting requirements. I urge that such exemptions not be enacted in the future.


The White House,

November 1, 1988.

Note: H.R. 3515, approved November 1, was assigned Public Law No. 100-582.

Ronald Reagan, Statement on Signing the Medical Waste Tracking Act of 1988 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Simple Search of Our Archives