States Champion Cooperative Federalism as New Environmental Paradigm

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Many believe that the best way to maximize the protection of human health and the environment in a time of constrained resources is to elevate State and local agencies to full partners with their federal overseers. Taking full advantage of the expertise developed by such agencies over the forty-plus years since major air, water and waste management legislation was passed in the 1970s is a logical way to ensure that every precious dollar spent on environmental infrastructure and controls is done so with an eye towards achieving net environmental benefits.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the Environmental Council of States (ECOS), the national non-profit, non-partisan association of state and territorial environmental agency leaders, is a leading champion of this view, a view that is well articulated in ECOS’s recently published (June 2017) paper “Cooperative Federalism 2.0”.

ECOS says that its paper “is a vision recasting state and federal roles for environmental management and public health protection at lower cost…[detailing] the essential roles and functions that ECOS believes the states and EPA should each perform.” Specifically, ECOS believes that this recasting will result in:

  • Equal or greater environmental and public health protection and outcomes through smart deployment of resources on critical priorities;
  • Reduced operating costs due to a more efficient division of services, streamlined operating relationships, best practice sharing, and elimination of redundancies across states and divisions of EPA;
  • More effective allocation of limited resources by determining the best roles and functions states and EPA are each best suited to perform; and,
  • With time, fewer disputes over who should take credit for successes and achievements, and who is responsible for decisions and actions that result in setbacks.

See Cooperative-Federalism-2.0 to review the full ECOS paper.