Environmental Federalism in a Dark Time
UVA Law Faculty Affiliations
The principle of federalism has become something of a rallying cry in recent efforts by the Trump Administration and its allies to scale back environmental regulation. For example, during his short and troubled tenure, former EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt argued that the federal government has become too intrusive and that states should be returned to a position of “regulatory primacy” on environmental matters. Some states have responded to the impeding federal retreat by forging ahead. For example, California has continued to take aggressive steps to curb greenhouse gas emissions, and has even taken steps to project its influence internationally. However, despite these hopeful signs of resistance, the net effect of the Trump Administration’s efforts to scale back federal environmental policy is likely to undermine rather than energize state environmental policymaking, especially in Republican-dominated and swing states, where the climate policy vacuum is most acute.