Joining the growing movement of Americans skeptical of the U.S. national government’s ability to consider the varying needs of states when creating environmental policy, Wisconsin Governor and likely Republican presidential nominee Scott Walker (R) argued at the June 2 Economic Growth Summit in Florida the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should be gutted.
“Every state has an equivalent of the EPA. … They’re much more effective, much more efficient and certainly much more accountable at the state and local level than they are in Washington, [DC],” Walker said.
Walker says EPA’s duties should be reduced to “mediating between interstate disputes and compacts where you’ve got bodies of land and water that go over multiple state lines.”
Most of EPA’s responsibilities, such as crafting a carbon-tax policy, would be devolved to the states under Walker’s plan.
Heartland Institute Science Director Jay Lehr wrote a Policy Brief in 2014 in favor of replacing EPA with “a Committee of the Whole of the 50 state environmental protection agencies.” This policy would empower states to craft appropriate environmental policies for their constituents instead of being “handed down by EPA … fiat rulings without congressional vote or oversight.”
Lehr later discussed the disproportionate number of liberal activists in EPA. He cited Fred L. Smith Jr., who wrote: “Deep-rooted institutional and political incentives systematically bias the EPA’s decisions.” Lehr pointed to EPA’s poor 25-year track record in regulatory reform, over-concentration of power at the federal level, and lack of binding congressional language as reasons to dismantle the agency.
Lehr proposed a five-year phase-out plan in which “a one-year preparation period [would be] followed by a four-year program in which 25 percent of the agency’s activities would be passed to the Committee of the Whole each year.” The Committee of the Whole’s subcommittees would be structured similarly to those of EPA and would gradually gain oversight over EPA research labs.
Lehr concluded devolving EPA’s duties to the states would rescue federalism and the environment.
If Walker wants more information on crafting an environmental policy for the future, Heartland stands ready to provide it for him and anyone else interested.