On a federal level, we make sure that there are certain standards of environmental protection legislation so that we can all, you know, live on the earth and not go extinct and what-not.
Now, I'm a big supporter of state's rights. The whole idea of the American experiment is for us to be a unified nation of independent states. However, we find ourselves in a conundrum.
Last December the EPA blocked California legislation that would have made stricter vehicle emission laws. They blocked this because they claimed that California is not in danger because of global warming (Klebnikov 1)
Let's get this out of the way really quick: Global Warming is real, and humans have dramatically accelerated the process. That's what a whole BUNCH of scientists say, and I believe 'em.
Sooooooooo, Californnia can only tighten up their laws with a waiver from the EPA, and while it has let California alway tighten their legislation since 1968 (1) (even during Republican years for all you "red vs bluers"), this time it didn't.
These kind of government departments are ultimately detrimental, as they allow for the central body to interfere with state legislation processes like this one. And while they may only do it once in awhile, as in the above case, they will still interfere.
The EPA also creates a legal environment for corporations to pollute to a certain amount. They LEGALIZE pollution for their corporate buddies. This department needs a major overhaul. I say make it into a department which takes away all federal protection for polluters, and creates a legal framework of 100% liability, thereby making class action lawsuits against these polluters much easier, and likely.
Think about it: how many new law firms would spring up who would be only in the business of suing polluters for infecting our air, and our lungs?
You have to make it unprofitable to pollute.
The EPA is a noble effort, and I agree with some federal role in environmental policy, but this whole business of actually STOPPING a state from making even better environmental policies for itself is NOT the role of the federal government.
Klebinikov, Peter, Ed. "Car Wars." Solutions Apr. 2008: 1-2.