Note the use of the terms "cooperative federalism" in the story.
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State regulators could see more autonomy and a new seat at the table as the Environmental Protection Agency drafts federal regulations under Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to run the agency.
Pruitt has conceded the federal government does play a role in protection of the environment, particularly when pollution crosses state lines, even though he has joined challenges to just such regulations offered by the Obama administration.
“I believe the EPA has an important role to play in our republican form of government. There are clearly air and water quality issues that cross state lines and sometimes that can require federal intervention,” Pruitt said during a House Science Committee hearing in May 2016. “At the same time the EPA was never intended to be our nation’s foremost environmental regulator. The states were to have regulatory primacy.”
Pruitt, who will appear before the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee for his confirmation hearing Jan. 18, could tip the balance of power on environmental protection toward states. As attorney general, Pruitt has fought back against federal regulations he argues encroach on state authorities—even setting up a federalism division in his office—and has questioned the EPA’s primacy when protecting the environment.
“What does turning more authority back to the states look like to states? What it looks like is flexibility and respect for state decision making and state choices. Right now, I would say there’s room for improvement,” Alexandra Dapolito Dunn, executive director and general counsel of the Environmental Council of the States, told Bloomberg BNA.
. . . William Yeatman, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute . . . predicted Pruitt would also be extremely deferential to states, even those that choose to pursue policies on greenhouse gases, while Dunn said a key area to watch in the coming months is how strongly Pruitt would advocate on behalf of states in a key area of water regulation.
Though the Clean Water Act allows states to ask for regulatory authority over the dredging and filling of their wetlands, Dunn said the Army Corps of Engineers has often denied these requests. Currently, only two states have successfully taken over wetland regulation from the federal government, though Dunn said many others have tried.
She would like to see Pruitt work harder than his predecessors did to try to persuade the Army Corps on this issue.
“This is where, if [he] is truly about getting authority to states that desire this authority, here’s a classic example where he can show leadership,” she said.
Some lawmakers and advocacy groups have praised Pruitt precisely for his approach to cooperative federalism, including Republicans such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.).
Sen. John Barrasso (Wyo.), the chairman of the Senate committee leading the confirmation hearing of Pruitt, touted in a Jan. 17 editorial on Fox News that Pruitt has a strong record of “standing up for states’ rights.”
- The National Environmental Policy Act.
- The Environmental Protection Agency.
- Scott Pruitt.