The Federalism Project

American Enterprise Institute

The Federalism Project
Environmental Policy

Statement of Purpose

Environmental regulation is more centralized and rigid than perhaps any other type of regulation.  Centralization is variously defended as a way of coping with the “complexity” of environmental problems; as a means of redressing cross-boundary pollution; or as a way of preventing a “race to the (environmental) bottom.”  These rationalizations, however, lack plausibility.  Centralized environmental controls are best understood as an accommodation to interest group pressures.

Sensible environmental regulation should start with a simple question:  is there any reason to believe that state or local jurisdictions will undervalue environmental benefits and amenities?  The books and articles listed here and the conference proceedings below criticize the ostensible justifications for centralized environmental controls and explore options for a more variegated, flexible, federal system of regulation.

Environmental Federalism? State Activism on Cleaning the Air (May 2003)

Environmentalism and Federalism Roundtable (Sept 2001)


news: Connecticut, Maine, and Massachusetts Sue EPA to Regulate Emissions of Carbon Dioxide  (June 6, 2003).

Supreme Court grants cert in Clean Air Act case. Will California's tough auto emission rules for vehicle fleets survive a  preemption challenge?