Essay on Environmental Issues. Is it really Cooperative Federalism under Trump Administration?



The article “Environmental Federalism and the Trump Administration Presidency: A Preliminary Assesment” by David M Konisky and Neal D Woods discusses the major changes in the American environmental policies made by the Trump Administration as is hinted in the title. 

Environmental policies continuously change one administration to another. However, the aftermath of the presidential election in 2016 drew a lot of attention to environmental federalism which was one of the most concerning topics related to Trump Administration. During the time of Obama’s administration, environmental protection was controlled mainly by the national level. At the same time, America was being globally recognized for its massive contribution to Climate Change from excessive pollutant emissions. So, exhibiting the urgency and need to act, America signed the Paris Agreement and established the Clean Power Plan (CPP) to reduce their emissions. For decades, fossil fuels have supported the economic growth of America. So, these actions made republicans and people of the fossil fuel industry very frustrated. 

They joined forces and continuously filed multiple lawsuits against EPA. Being a Republican with the mindest of economic gains, President Trump was also seeking to reverse the existing policies. So, in his first year of office, he not only removed America from the Paris Agreement but also made strong efforts towards deregulation. Up until now, President Trump has only focused on removing the policies and not even one new policy related to environmental protection has been implemented. He always had criticized the CPP, as according to him the strict emission standards set hampered the American economy. So, he wants to repeal the plan to ensure that fossil fuel industries are actively functioning and providing jobs. Furthermore, Republicans mostly prefer state-level control, accordingly, he has changed the environmental federalism under Obama’s administration by delegating more responsibility to states leading to the concept of “cooperative federalism”. But the question related to this concept is whether or not states really are given the responsibility and are included in the process.

Personally, I strongly support cooperative federalism as having the input of citizens in the policymaking process will be much more effective than made solely by the national politicians who really cannot connect to the problem in the same way. However, a major flaw seen in cooperative federalism under Trump’s administration is the failure to incorporate the interests of the states. In a statement by Pruitt, he mentions that “Any replacement rule will be done carefully, properly, and with humility, by listening to all those affected by the rule”.(357) 

However, when the time comes for actions, they tend to do the opposite. It is important to realize that the current federal government will always put the profits of the fossil fuel industries ahead of the people. The current administration consisting of the elites and with the power they have gained from the public will never take care of the real-world problems faced by the public. This failure and loss took place when “the DOI announced in January 2018 that it would permit oil and gas drilling in most of the U.S. Coastal waters” (362) as part of the Trump administration’s plan to expand the fossil fuel resources. While making this decision, the concerns of the states were not included at all. 

Cooperative federalism under Trump’s administration is not at all different from environmental federalism under Obama’s administration because either way the national level has much more authority. As mentioned in the article, even though the role of states has become recognizable it is only because they are now actively taking initiatives by implementing policies related to environmental protection since the federal government is not. While there always has been a “tug-of-war” between levels of authority, there is hope that (the right) cooperative federalism will prevent further detrimental environmental decisions. It provides the possibility of protecting the environment while at the same time integrating economic and federalism concepts in the policymaking process leading to a possible win-win situation.