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Letting States do the Dirty Work: State Responsibility for Federal Environmental Regulation

  • Hilary Sigman

Under most U.S. environmental regulations, the federal government shares responsibility with the states by authorizing them to implement and enforce federal policies. Authorization provides states with considerable discretion over the effects of regulation and is perhaps the most significant decentralization in U.S. environmental policy. However, few studies address its role. To fill this gap, this paper explores the empirical determinants of authorization for water pollution and hazardous waste regulation. Although no single hypothesis strongly explains authorization, I find some evidence that states authorize to increase the stringency of regulation, which suggests that environmental decentralization would be beneficial.

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Paper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 9451.

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Date of creation: Jan 2003
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Publication status: published as Sigman, Hilary. "Letting States Do The Dirty Work: State Responsibility For Federal Environmental Regulation," National Tax Journal, 2003, v56(1,Mar), 107-122.
Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:9451
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  1. Gray, Wayne B. & Shadbegian, R.J.Ronald J., 2004. "'Optimal' pollution abatement--whose benefits matter, and how much?," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 47(3), pages 510-534, May.
  2. Wilson, John Douglas, 1999. "Theories of Tax Competition," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 52(n. 2), pages 269-304, June.
  3. Eric Helland & Andrew B. Whitford, . "Pollution Incidence and Political Jurisdiction: Evidence from the TRI," Claremont Colleges Working Papers 2002-28, Claremont Colleges.
  4. Timothy Besley & Stephen Coate, 1999. "Centralized versus Decentralized Provision of Local Public Goods: A Political Economy Analysis," NBER Working Papers 7084, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Helland, Eric, 1998. "The Revealed Preferences of State EPAs: Stringency, Enforcement, and Substitution," Journal of Environmental Economics and Management, Elsevier, vol. 35(3), pages 242-261, May.
  6. Koleman S. Strumpf & Felix Oberholzer-Gee, 2002. "Endogenous Policy Decentralization: Testing the Central Tenet of Economic Federalism," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 110(1), pages 1-36, February.
  7. Oates, Wallace, 2001. "A Reconsideration of Environmental Federalism," Discussion Papers dp-01-54, Resources For the Future.
  8. Revesz, Richard L. & Stavins, Robert N., 2007. "Environmental Law," Handbook of Law and Economics, Elsevier.
  9. Wallace E. Oates, 1999. "An Essay on Fiscal Federalism," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 37(3), pages 1120-1149, September.
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