ANR Secretary Markowitz speaks on “Cooperative Federalism” with EPA

Washington, D.C. -- Vermont Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Deb Markowitz spoke today in front of the full Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works on Vermont’s relationship with the federal EPA and its approach to the increased number of regulatory mandates implemented at the state level.

Senator James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, called today’s hearing to examine “Cooperative Federalism: State Perspectives on EPA Regulatory Actions and the Role of States as Co-Regulators.” Secretary Markowitz spoke on behalf of Vermont’s work with the EPA on important environmental issues that cross state borders, such as air and water pollution, and the extent to which state government relies on the EPA to provide scientific and technical support for its environmental initiatives.

Citing many examples of successful co-regulation efforts between Vermont state government and the EPA, Secretary Markowitz expressed how valuable this relationship has been in anticipating and resolving problems stemming from federal regulations that have unintended consequences for Vermont because of its small size and rural nature. The EPA has allowed Vermont flexibility in executing its programs, cooperated with Vermont to achieve shared environmental goals, included Vermont’s voice in efforts to develop new rules and standards, and shared resources and expertise that have allowed for efficient and effective implementation of state-led programs.

However, she also noted that Congress has not provided adequate funding for state implementation of important environmental programs. Furthermore, Congress has failed to increase the funding provided to states over time, and inflation has further exacerbated the problems stemming from limited budgets.

Presently, Vermont takes responsibility for five federally delegated programs: the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, the Clean Water Act, the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System Permit Program, the Clean Air Act, and the Safe Drinking Water Act. The state-led implementation of these programs is voluntary and were taken on, according to Markowitz, because of Vermont’s strong commitment to protecting its natural resources for both the benefit of its citizens’ health and the support of the state’s land-based economy.

Secretary Markowitz was among five invited panelists that included representatives of environmental protection departments in South Dakota, Arkansas, West Virginia, and Delaware. Her testimony is available on-line at: