Central government limitations on local policy options for environmental protection

Robert W. Lake

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The advantages of centralized environmental policy-making are widely assumed, but a corrective may be overdue. Central government environmental policy limits local policy options in at least three ways: (1) through federal pre-emption imposing solutions on local government; (2) through federal mandating of policy for implementation by subnational government; or (3) through federal disincentives to local adoption of innovative solutions. These constraints are illustrated by policy controlling the disposal of high-level radioactive waste, hazardous waste, and solid waste, respectively. The constraining effect of central environmental policy is felt regardless of whether the formal structure of environmental rule-making and implementation is centralized or decentralized. The analysis suggests the need for greater flexibility and coordination in the geographic structuring of environmental policy-making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)236-242
Number of pages7
JournalProfessional Geographer
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1994

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


  • Decentralization
  • Environmental policy
  • Environmental protection
  • Waste disposal


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