Western States Water Newsletter

 Addressing Water Needs and Strategies for a Sustainable Future



Cooperative Federalism and State Implementation of EPA Programs

On January 12, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, sent a letter to the Committee members’ 20 states, asking for their perspective on EPA’s current regulatory framework.  The letter noted that “environmental statutes such as the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act are based on principles of cooperative federalism,” and that “states are responsible for carrying out 96.5% of federal environmental programs.”  In an effort to improve understanding of the dynamics between states and EPA in achieving environmental regulations, the Committee requested feedback from the state agencies regarding the time, effort and resources necessary to comply with EPA programs and regulations, and “whether the current regulatory framework between EPA and the states upholds the principle of cooperative federalism.” Seventeen states responded to EPW’s request for feedback on state implementation of EPA regulatory programs, including Oklahoma, Wyoming, Idaho, Nebraska, South Dakota, Alaska, California, and Oregon.
On March 9, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee held a hearing titled Cooperative Federalism: State Perspectives on EPA Regulatory Actions and the Role of States as Co-Regulators. “It’s critical to the EPW Committee’s understanding of federal environmental policies to not just hear from the EPA, but the states on the ground implementing these policies,” Chairman Inhofe said.  “I am pleased to receive robust feedback from state regulators and look forward to receiving additional responses.  As the letters and today’s hearing highlight, there are many areas where states report that EPA is not upholding the principle of cooperative federalism.  In a majority of the letters, states reported that EPA is deviating from its core functions and imposing mandates on states driven by a political agenda. This results in years of litigation, regulatory uncertainty, and costly inefficiencies while failing to produce meaningful environmental benefits. The testimony and feedback from states will aid my committee as we continue to identify ways to enhance the co-regulatory role of states and EPA in achieving environmental goals.”