The Law and Policy of Environmental Federalism
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The Law and Policy of Environmental Federalism

A Comparative Analysis

Edited by Kalyani Robbins

This book provides a comparative analysis of the various approaches to environmental federalism and a consideration of what each system might learn from the others. Each chapter focuses on a different regime, and together they offer a broad overview of the field as well as original theory and policy analysis that is sure to meaningfully contribute to our understanding of environmental federalism as well as our policy-making future.
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Chapter 11: The cost of federalism: ecology, community, and the pragmatism of land use

Keith H. Hirokawa and Jonathan Rosenbloom


If there is a victim of federalism, it is undoubtedly the community. Self-governance demands that the persons affected by a governance decision have priority of control in decision-making over persons not so affected. Through the exercise of federal regulatory authority over local environmental conditions, citizens lose their ability to govern their communities. A federal top-down regulatory scheme imposes unwanted – and sometimes unwarranted – uniformity upon the diverse local prerogatives and priorities that are individually expressed among thousands of local jurisdictions. Local communities are stripped of critical opportunities to self-identify and build a community around their natural environs. This chapter subjects the federalism question to the ecological economics of ecosystem services and suggests that community is a worthwhile expression of values. By looking to the exercise of federal control over environmental issues and their potential assault on the benefits in fostering local diversity, this chapter explores whether imposed homogeneity or sameness at the federal level defeats the benefits of self-identifying communities through land use controls. Our objective is to help clarify the impact of federal regulation on local land use control and to more completely articulate how federal regulation detaches a community from its local ecosystem.

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