A Comparative Analysis
Edited by Kalyani Robbins
Chapter 11: The cost of federalism: ecology, community, and the pragmatism of land use
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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