Environmental Regulation and State-Local Relations
James P. Lesterand Emmett N. Lombard
Since the early 1980s, students of American government have noted the enhanced importance of state governments in the American governmental system. State political institutions and practices have adapted to changing conditions in the states; reforms of structures and operations within the executive and legislative branches have been accompanied by other important changes in state government ( Bowman and Kearney 1986a; Dye 1984; Jewell 1982). In addition, states are adopting a more positive and facilitative posture toward their local governments in terms of funding and services, and they are demonstrating concern for local government problems, particularly as many local governments continue to struggle with financial and service provision problems ( Bowman and Kearney 1986b). One area in which more cooperative state-local relations are developing is environmental protection.
Although the federal government retains overall regulatory and enforcement authority for environmental protection in the United States, the primary responsibility for policy implementation increasingly resides with state and local governments ( Lester 1986, 1995; Davis and Lester 1987). This trend is likely to continue into the next century. American citizens have expressed dissatisfaction with the flow of power away from the states over the past sixty years, and the Republican Congress has signaled its intention to permit broader authority of state governments in environmental policy (as well as other areas) while at the same time requiring increased use of cost-benefit analysis and risk analysis before new federal regulations may be issued. In addition, the Congress disapproves of the "regulatory burden" that environmental legislation of the past has