Endogenous decentralization in federal environmental policies

Howard F. Chang, Hilary Sigman, Leah G. Traub

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Under most federal environmental laws and some health and safety laws, states may apply for "primacy," that is, authority to implement and enforce federal law, through a process known as "authorization." Some observers fear that states use authorization to adopt more lax policies in a regulatory "race to the bottom." This paper presents a simple model of the interaction between the federal and state governments in such a scheme of partial decentralization. Our model suggests that the authorization option may not only increase social welfare but also allow more stringent environmental regulations than would otherwise be feasible. Our model also suggests that the federal government may choose its policies so that states that desire more strict regulation authorize, while other states remain under the federal program. We then test this hypothesis using data on federal regulation of water pollution and of hazardous waste, which are two of the most important environmental programs to allow authorization. We find that states that prefer more environmental protection authorize more quickly under both policies. This evidence suggests that states seek authorization to adopt more strict policies instead of more lax policies compared to federal policies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)39-50
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Review of Law and Economics
Volume37
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2014

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authorization
environmental policy
decentralization
federal law
regulation
hazardous waste
federal policy
water pollution
environmental law
state law
environmental protection
social welfare
Federal Government
Environmental policy
Decentralization
anxiety
Authorization
interaction
health
evidence

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Law
  • Finance

Cite this

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Endogenous decentralization in federal environmental policies. / Chang, Howard F.; Sigman, Hilary; Traub, Leah G.

In: International Review of Law and Economics, Vol. 37, 01.03.2014, p. 39-50.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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