Governing Principles of the Coalition for Environmental Mandate Reform

Nation's Cities Weekly, October 11, 1993 | Go to article overview

Governing Principles of the Coalition for Environmental Mandate Reform


Unfunded and underfunded federal environmental mandates exact a tremendous financial cost on state and local governments and taxpayers. State and local governments recognize that the cumulative burden of unfunded mandates, coupled with their increasing costs for compliance, risk the loss of public support for comprehensive environmental protection. Strengthening environmental protection with limited financial resources will be achieved only through federal, state and local partnership building. The Coalition for Environmental Mandate Reform supports performance and science-based environmental policies and programs which improve environmental conditions by reducing risks to human beings, plant and animal species, and ecological systems. The Coalition asks Congress and the Federal Administration to enact environmental laws, policies and regulations that reflect the following principles:

Principle 1. Science: Environmental legislation and resulting regulation should be formulated on a well founded, objective, unbiased peer-reviewed science base. Specifically:

* The scientific process shall be utilized in the formation of environmental legislation. This scientific process should consist of five steps:

-perception of a problem,

-funding for investigation,

-scientific investigation,

-release of scientific results for peer review, and,

-communication to public officials and general public.

* Should immediate threats to environmental or public health appear to occur, temporary measures should be authorized and implemented pending completion of scientific review and verification.

* Federal, state and local governments should utilize scientifically objective, unbiased assessment as a tool in determining environmental policies.

* The broader impacts of ecological management practices should be considered before individual mandates are imposed.

Principle 2. Funding: The impact of environmental mandates on state and local governments must be thoroughly understood prior to formation and passage of legislation and regulations. This means:

* Federal government should determine the cost to state and local governments for environmental compliance.

* The ability of state and local governments to pay for unfunded and underfunded environmental mandates be considered by the federal government in the formation of environmental policies.

* Federal, state and local governments should agree on a funding formula to ensure the ability to comply with environmental mandates.

Principle 3. Flexibility: The federal government must recognize that environmental protection can be achieved through various methods. Specifically:

* Government should be committed to environmental solutions that are shown to be the least costly and most effective.

* Consideration of local environmental conditions should be incorporated in the development of environmental legislation, regulation and other policies.

* nd local governments should be permitted to develop alternative approaches to the current "command and control" system and other mandated solutions for environmental compliance. These alternatives should include pollution prevention and market-based inventive measures.

* Barriers that affect the ability of state and local government to comply with environmental mandates should be considered in the development of environmental policies.

* State and local governments should be encouraged to use a regional approach, where problems and conditions are similar, to address environmental mandates or other issues.

* Basic national environmental standards should be set by the federal government. More stringent standards could subsequently be enacted by state and local governments.

Principle 4. Partnerships and Coordination: All levels of government must work together to ensure the public health and environment are protected. …

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Governing Principles of the Coalition for Environmental Mandate Reform
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