Gonzaga Debate Institute 2008
A. State leadership on energy policy is driving United States FederalismEnnis
, Staff writer for Texas Monthly,
. [Michael, “Bear Market; With the federal government in knots, Texasand California--the two most powerful megastates--are fighting to lead the country forward. Guess who's winning.,”Texas Monthly, March 08. Accessed 7/6/08 from Proquest.com]But evolving most rapidly, and most portentously, is the role megastates like ours play in this federation wecall the United States.
We're now seeing the fruition of the "federalism" that conservatives have toutedfor decades as the antidote to the smothering nanny state of the New Deal and the Great Society. Theirony
is that the notion of states' rights has undergone a radical twenty-first-centuryevolution. The erstwhile battle cry of knuckle-dragging
segregationists has become theanthem of progressives of all stripes, from alternative energy entrepreneurs to gay rights advocates.Where once the federal government took an enlightened stand against prejudice and poverty
anddragged the South kicking and screaming into the civil rights era,
today Washington stands in theschoolhouse door while forward-looking states invoke their right to solve problems like global warmingand spiraling health-care costs.
To an extent, this is what Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis was talking about in his famous 1932 opinion: "It is one of the happyincidents of the federal system that a single courageous state may ... serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economicexperiments without risk to the rest of the country." But the "laboratories of democracy" Brandeis envisioned have clout he couldn't haveforeseen back when the entire national economy was considerably smaller, even in inflation-adjusted dollars, than that of either California or Texas today. The challenges the two megastates face are commensurate in scale: California and Texas boast the nation'slargest undocumented populations, the most polluted skies, the most residents lacking health insurance, and the most pressing water andenergy demands. Despite the theme of change in the 2008
the days of Washington
getting the lab results and
formulating national panaceas are probably over; paralyzed by red-state-blue-state gridlock, thefederal government gives every appearance that it no longer has the agility to get the big things done ina rapidly changing world.
So even when we're not firing political potshots at each other, California andTexas are already in an existential race to arrive at creative solutions to our nation's most intractable problems. The loser will end up buried beneath those problems. The winner will own the future.
B. Federal legislation concerning environmental regulation intrudes on state autonomy
, associate professor, Case Western University School of Law,
. [Jonathan, "Jurisdictional Mismatch inEnvironmental Federalism," New York University Environmental Law Journal 14, no. 1 (2005), p130-45. Accessed7/7/08 from ssrn.com]
The federalist structure of American government supports a
general, albeit rebuttable,
presumption thatany given policy question should be addressed by state governments. This presumption is embodied inthe structure of the federal constitution, which grants the federal government limited and enumeratedpowers while reserving all other matters to the states. Before the federal government can act, it mustdemonstrate that a given policy is within the scope of its enumerated powers
, as where the federalgovernment does not act, things will remain in state hands.
This principle of “subsidiarity,”
thatproblems should be addressed at the lowest level at which they can be
appropriate in the context of environmental policy,
and leads to the sort of “multitier regulatory structure” that Professor Esty suggests.
Because most environmental problems are local orregional in nature,
there is a strong case that
most (though not all)
environmental problems should beaddressed at the state
Given the nature of this nation’s federalist system, that would entailallocating responsibility for most environmental problems to state governments with the hope, if not theexpectation, that state governments would leave many concerns to local authorities.