Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=295424
 
 

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Let Fifty Flowers Bloom: Transforming the States into Laboratories of Environmental Policy


Jonathan H. Adler


Case Western Reserve University School of Law; PERC - Property and Environment Research Center


The Federalism Project/American Enterprise Institute, January 2002

Abstract:     
The fundamental problem with existing approaches to environmental regulation is that they are excessively centralized. As such, they exhibit most of the failings of Soviet-style command-and-control systems: excessive rigidity, inefficiency, diminishing marginal returns, poor prioritization, and so on. Given these problems, the most essential reforms of environmental policy are those that decentralize decision-making authority and responsibility. While state regulators are on the frontlines for the enforcement of much environmental regulation, key priority-setting and decision-making authority remains centralized in Washington, D.C. Genuine ecological experimentation, starting at the state and local level, is required to bring about the next generation of environmental reforms. This paper outlines one possible proposal to reform environmental policy by reopening the states as laboratories of environmental policy. Part II of this paper fleshes out the argument for decentralization, highlighting why vesting primary authority for most pollution control problems in the hands of state and local governments is preferable to maintaining control in Washington, D.C. Part III discusses some of the "reinvention" and decentralization efforts to date, and how they have failed to foster sufficient innovation to address current environmental needs. These failures suggest the need for more dramatic reform than has been considered to date. Part IV outlines a specific policy proposal: environmental forbearance. This proposal, modeled on the flexibility-enhancing provisions of the Communications Act, would provide states a means of getting legal authority to develop and implement new environmental policy ideas and set new environmental priorities. Part V discusses the dominant critiques of devolving regulatory authority to the states and how, if at all, these criticisms should impact the forbearance proposal.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 60

Keywords: federalism, environment, devolution

JEL Classification: H7, K32, Q2

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Date posted: January 8, 2002  

Suggested Citation

Adler, Jonathan H., Let Fifty Flowers Bloom: Transforming the States into Laboratories of Environmental Policy. The Federalism Project/American Enterprise Institute, January 2002. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=295424 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.295424

Contact Information

Jonathan H. Adler (Contact Author)
Case Western Reserve University School of Law ( email )
11075 East Boulevard
Cleveland, OH 44106-7148
United States
216-368-2535 (Phone)
216-368-2086 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://www.jhadler.net
PERC - Property and Environment Research Center
2048 Analysis Drive
Suite A
Bozeman, MT 59718
United States

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