Learn more at: www.pbs.org/supremecourt
Optional Handout #4D:
FEDERALISM AND THE CLASH OVER FEDERAL AND STATE ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATION
You have been assigned to consider how the clash between some state and national environmental regulations illustrates controversy over federalism.
The other members of your group are:
Decide as a group who will have each of the following roles:
After you have identified students to take each of these roles, read the information provided and answer the questions together as a group. At the end of your discussion, your group will present its findings to the class in a three- to four-minute presentation.
The federal and state governments have often been at odds over the issue of environmental regulation for quite some time. States sometimes develop their own regulatory actions or file suit against the national government to provoke legislative or regulatory change.
For instance, in 2005 New York City sued the Department of Energy because the department was 13 years behind schedule in developing and implementing efficiency standards for appliances. In another example, several Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states banded together to develop the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to monitor emissions.
States such as New York and California have tended to take an activist approach when it comes to the environment, setting standards that might be more strict that those required under federal law. Other states are satisfied to follow the federal standards.
The concern of the federal government, including agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency, is that state actions often conflict with regulations set on the national level. They contend that it is not practical to set and enforce environmental standards on a state-by-state basis.
Questions to Consider
Answer the following questions on a separate sheet of paper. The group should also take notes on the newsprint that has been provided.
1.) Provide a brief summary of the issue.
2.) Explain how the concept of federalism is evident in this issue.
3.) Look again at Handout #1: Federalism Classification Activity.
5.) What do you think the Supreme Court would decide if it heard a case on this issue?