Reps. Carson and Gibbons
June 25, 1997
in this forum:
Has regulating the environment become too complex? Can we really establish national envrionmental guidelines? Why aren't decisions made on the local level? Is the EPA out of control? Is federal ownership of land so bad?
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A question from Lewis Halpern of Reno, NV:
Shouldn't environmental decisions be made at the most local level of government? Therefore, people who want to spend the millions of dollars to have clean air can pay it and those who think things are fine in their community don't. It seems the problem with the EPA is they have to fight everyone throughout the nation and not address local issues with local people.
Rep. Gibbons responds:
Many agencies take a one size fits all approach when they create federal regulations. Congress itself is a victim to this approach in many ways, but the overall goal should be to turn the decision-making process over to the States. With this approach laws become most effective because they can be tailored to the specific qualities of each state and community.
The desert lands in Nevada are significantly different from the wooded, humid areas in the east coast. A one size fits all approach to regulation, again assuming it's needed, leaves many local regions of the country at a disadvantage because of rigidly mandated economic and environmental compliance requirements.
Rep. Carson responds:
The problem with deferring all environmental decisions to local communities is that they may not happen. Local communities do not have the resources currently to deal with vast environmental problems. When President Nixon established the EPA in the early 1970s, he saw that there were environmental problems that local and state communities could not address. National standards and environmental controls emerged as a result. It may be true that the EPA does not effectively address local communities enough on a case by case basis. The alternative would be no EPA and no national controls. Localities without proper support for environmental problems would be problematic. Even if local communities believe that controls are needed, the nonlinear nature of our environment dictates controls on a national level. For example, if you live in a county that decides it can live with dirtier air, the pollution your county produces would effect your county and all of those around it. Even if local communities had control of environmental regulations for their own locality, they would most likely end up establishing a pact with neighboring communities to reach agreement on environmental standards.