Compared to their counterparts abroad, US environmental regulatory regimes provide stronger rights of public participation, broader access to information concerning regulatory compliance, and easier access to the courts. These national differences are attributed to differences in governmental structure and in how regulatory responsibility is allocated among levels of government. The distinctive modes of fragmenting and checking governmental authority are cited to explain the characteristics of US environmental regulation: more detailed and complex legal requirements, and more protracted permitting processes. These procedural problems, it is argued, are not the inevitable consequences of federalism, but rather the desire to allow local and state governments discretion to make the tradeoffs between environmental protection and economic development, while at the same time, not trusting local governments to adequately protect environmental values.

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