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Good morning. Wendy Cox in Vancouver today.

Utah is about to give itself the ability to ignore federal orders and regulations if the state legislature concludes Washington is overstepping its bounds. The bill was passed by the state Senate on Friday and will now be examined by the state House of Representatives, where it most assuredly will be signed by the Republican governor within a couple of weeks.

The Utah Constitutional Sovereignty Act was prompted by Environmental Protection Agency regulations on ozone that Scott Sandall, the Republican state senator who drafted the bill, argued will unfairly have an impact on Utah because much of the ozone in the state is not locally generated.

“This could be one of those things that rises to the standard to say, ‘EPA, you’ve got this wrong. You’ll be harming our state, shutting down certain industries,’” Sandall said in an interview with Globe and Mail U.S. correspondent Nathan VanderKlippe.

Sound familiar?

As Nathan writes, Sandall and Stuart Adams, the Senate president in Utah, are happy to give Alberta credit for the idea. The Utah bill is directly rooted in the Alberta Sovereignty Within a United Canada Act, whose 2022 passage under Alberta premier Danielle Smith caught the attention of Utah senators last summer. Like Smith, they wanted a tool to pre-empt compliance with federal regulation they deemed unconstitutional.

“I’ll give the credit where the genesis came from: Alberta,” Sandall said. “We share some of the common concerns about federal overreach and in that way I think we partner, even across the border.”

The Utah bill would allow state legislators, if they can muster a two-thirds vote in both the House of Representatives and Senate, to pass a concurrent resolution barring a government officer from enforcing “a federal directive within the state if the Legislature determines the federal directive violates the principles of state sovereignty.”

“This is a tool that when we think the federal government is a little out of balance, we can try to right that balance and put states’ rights ahead of the federal,” Sandall said.

But like its Albertan inspiration, it’s unclear how much clout it will actually have. A concurrent resolution cannot become law, said Jay DeSart, who chairs the department of history and political science at Utah Valley University.

“It ultimately amounts to an official expression of a sentiment. It doesn’t really have any teeth. All this will do is have the state officially say, ‘We don’t like this and so we’re going to drag our feet,’” DeSart said.

Smith deployed Alberta’s sovereignty act for the first time last November, taking aim at the federal government’s draft Clean Electricity Regulations, which call for an electricity grid that produces net-zero greenhouse emissions by 2035. Smith’s government contends Ottawa’s proposal would infringe on Alberta’s constitutional right to manage its electricity industry, and that the 2035 goal is unrealistic in the province, which relies heavily on natural gas, a producer of greenhouse emissions, to generate power.

Smith’s government said in November it would use the act to empower provincial officials and regulators not to help implement or enforce federal rules tied to the 2035 net-zero grid – but not to the point that they break the law. Smith said her government will work out a provision to shield officials from prosecution, should things come to that.

The law has not been tested in court, and experts have questioned its constitutionality.

Nathan writes today that the appearance of the Utah bill in the U.S. legislature is a measure of the influence that has been attained by Canadian conservatives. The truck convoys that crippled downtown Ottawa and shut down several border crossings in 2022 attracted considerable attention in the United States.

Next week, former Fox News broadcaster Tucker Carlson has planned appearances in Alberta alongside Smith, Conrad Black and Rex Murphy.

“We often talk about American political trends flowing into Canada. And we forget the fact that the flow also goes the other way,” said Duane Bratt, a political scientist at Mount Royal University in Calgary.

This is the weekly Western Canada newsletter written by B.C. Editor Wendy Cox and Alberta Bureau Chief Mark Iype. If you’re reading this on the web, or it was forwarded to you from someone else, you can sign up for it and all Globe newsletters here.

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