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Senate EPW Subcommittee Discusses Cooperative Federalism
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Senate EPW Subcommittee Discusses Cooperative Federalism

 

On April 10, the Senate Environment and Public Works Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety held a hearing entitled, “Cooperative Federalism Under the Clean Air Act: State Perspectives.” “Cooperative federalism” is a term often used by EPA Administrator Pruitt to explain his vision of shared environmental responsibilities between the federal government and the individual states. During the hearing, five state environmental regulators testified about their experiences with EPA over the course of the first sixteen months of the Trump administration.

 

Nancy Vehr, from the Division of Air Quality of the Wyoming of Environmental Quality, stated that Wyoming’s relationship with EPA continues to improve under the new administration, but she voiced some concern about a number of issues. Vehr asserted that the regional haze program has failed Wyoming and the federal implementation program (FIP) lacked benefit and has cost the state upwards of $600 million.

 

Toby Baker, the Commissioner of Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), praised Pruitt and what he sees as EPA’s cooperation and accessibility. He highlighted the state’s drop in ozone emissions since 1990 and its increasing investments in wind and solar. Baker pointed to the fact that no city in Texas is among the top ten most polluted in the country, stating that state initiatives helped achieve these goals.

 

Baker also pointed out that the Clean Power Plan (CPP) was an example of cooperative federalism that didn’t work. He believes benchmarks should be market and not regulatory driven. Baker added that Texas would be within the 2020 emissions goals by 2019 because the cheap natural gas market is accomplishing what the CPP attempted to mandate.

 

Shawn Garvin, Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control for the State of Delaware, expressed concern that EPA was leaving downwind states in a precarious position because they are constantly being challenged by pollution originating beyond their border. Garvin urged EPA to work directly with downwind states, recognize their concerns and provide oversight over upwind emissions.

 

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-DE) expressed his support of Garvin’s concerns and noted that EPA needs to take all states’ concerns into account.

 

Matthew Rodriguez, Secretary of the California Environmental Protection Agency, testified that there was a lack of leadership in Washington and that he believed that cooperative federalism was in jeopardy under Administrator Pruitt. He pointed out that many of California’s environmental programs are threatened by EPA’s rollback of the CPP.

 

Rodriguez also expressed concern that EPA is considering rescinding California’s Clean Air Act waiver, which allows them to set stricter emissions rules because of severe pollution problems. He was concerned that California’s mobile source rules are also being threatened. Rodriguez said that California was willing to work with the federal government to try to hammer out these issues but warned that the state will file suit to protect its emissions rules.

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