Promoting Local Control and States Rights

A fundamental principle of our Constitution is the belief that local governments are better suited to deal with local issues than a distant, out-of-touch federal government. State and local governments are closer to the people, more responsive to citizens, and better equipped for representing their constituents on many important issues. Recently, however, this tradition of constitutionally established local control has been seriously eroded due to usurpation of power by the federal government. Westerners are at the forefront in believing that the federal government should remove itself from historic and traditional local concerns.

Despite the history of westerners properly managing their resources in a sound, environmentally friendly way, Congress has passed legislation to limit states’ abilities to make decisions on water quality, water rights allocations, air quality and land use. For example, under the Clean Air Act, states are delegated the authority to implement the provisions of the Act, but federal land managers have developed regulations that give them veto power over any new project that may impact Federal Class I wilderness areas. Congress also claimed federal reserved water rights for land designations, which hampers the ability of states to adjudicate water rights. There are countless other examples of the federal government overstepping its constitutional limits and encroaching on state power.

Some issues are inherently federal in nature, but those that are not should be left to the states and localities. When the federal government decides that a bureaucrat in Washington, D.C. should make decisions on local issues, often the result is contempt and frustration by people that are impacted. Federal agencies have no accountability, and the input of those who must live with the agencies’ decisions is often ignored. The Western Caucus seeks policies that empower individuals and communities to conserve natural resources and grow their economies simultaneously. We support locally driven, incentive-based policies that reduce bureaucracy.