When is Two a Crowd? The Impact of Federal Action on State Environmental Regulation

49 Pages Posted: 16 May 2006 Last revised: 21 Apr 2012

Jonathan H. Adler

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

Date Written: May 1, 2006

Abstract

This article seeks to identify the ways in which federal actions can influence state regulatory choices in the context of environmental policy. The federal government may directly influence state policy choices by preempting state policies or by inducing state cooperation through the use of various incentives and penalties for state action. The federal government may indirectly, and perhaps unintentionally, influence state policy choices as well. Federal policies may encourage greater state regulation by reducing the costs of initiating regulatory action or by placing issues on state policy agendas. Federal regulation may also discourage or even "crowd-out" state-level regulatory action by reducing the net benefits of state-level initiatives. The potential for federal regulation to have both positive and negative indirect effects on state regulatory choices suggests that increases in federal regulation can alternatively enhance or reduce state regulatory activity and may, in some instances, even result in a net reduction of regulatory protection for environmental resources. Such potential effects are largely ignored in environmental policy discussions, and warrant subsequent empirical study. While this paper focuses on environmental regulation, the overall framework should be applicable to other regulatory contexts.

Keywords: Environment, Federal Action, State Action, Regulations, Empirical Evidence, Federalism, Cooperative federalism

JEL Classification: K23, K32

Suggested Citation

Adler, Jonathan H., When is Two a Crowd? The Impact of Federal Action on State Environmental Regulation (May 1, 2006). Case Legal Studies Research Paper No. 06-09. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=902660 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.902660

Jonathan H. Adler (Contact Author)

Case Western Reserve University School of Law ( email )

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HOME PAGE: http://www.jhadler.net

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