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Cooperative Federalism Under the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act: Is This Any Way to Run a Government?

February 1985

Citation: ELR 10039

Author: Mark S. Squillace

Editors' Summary: Most environmental statutes reflect a decision by Congress to split implementation responsibility between state and federal governments. The author asks whether this is wise. Focussing on the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA) and its implementation, he compares experiences under the Act with direct federal regulations and state—federal "cooperation." The author argues that criticisms of direct federal regulation, while valid in some situations, do not carry sufficient force to justify abandonment of that model. He concludes that cooperative federalism under SMCRA not only fails to meet statutory goals of environmental protection, but is difficult to carry off and wastes state and federal resources through pointless duplication and vexing oversight activity.

Professor Squillace, formerly Director of the Litigation Project at the Environmental Policy Institute, is an Associate Professor of Law at the University of Wyoming. A longer version of this Article will appear this spring in the special coal issue of the West Virginia Law Review.

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