Environmental Federalism: A View from the United States
Encyclopedia of Environmental Law: Environmental Decisionmaking (Robert Glicksman et al. eds., 2015, Forthcoming
15 Pages Posted: 2 Aug 2015
Date Written: July 22, 2015
Since Congress exploded onto the scene in the 1970s with several major pieces of environmental legislation, federalism has been a fixture of environmental policy debates. Prior to this time, environmental regulation had been left largely to state and local control. Since then, scholars and policymakers have debated the justifications for a strong federal role and the manner that authority should be allocated between states and the federal government. Scholars have divided more or less into two camps, those that support allocations designed to achieve efficiency according to models of perfect competition, and those identifying benefits of a more dynamic and overlapping relationship between state and federal authorities. Interestingly, the actual practice of environmental federalism, as seen in the major federal environmental statutes, has tended not to follow either model exactly. Recent indications, however, signal a trend toward the dynamic model. A case in point is the duplication, overlap and incorporation of state-level climate change policy into federal law.
Keywords: Environment, federalism, environmental federalism, efficiency, interstate competition, dynamic, climate change, environmental policy, environmental regulation, states and local governments
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