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The Politics of preemption: American federalism and risk regulation

David Vogel

Regulation & Governance, 2022, vol. 16, issue 4, 1160-1173

Abstract: This article discusses four examples of risk regulations in the United States, namely vehicle emissions, appliance efficiency, chemical safety, and the labeling of genetically modified food. In each example, consumer or environmental regulations were initiated at the state level despite business opposition. But when faced with a multiplicity of state product regulations, the affected firms decided to support the expansion of federal regulations. They were willing to accept stronger federal standards in order to preempt individual states from enacting more stringent standards than the federal government. This, in turn, led to a conflict between firms who wanted federal preemption of state restrictions and states who wanted to be able to enact regulations more stringent than those of the federal government. The outcomes of each of these conflicts over the scope of federal preemption had important impacts on each multilevel governance regulatory regime. The ability of both levels of the American government to enact more innovative risk regulations – often referred to as dynamic federalism – has made it more likely that they will be strengthened.

Date: 2022
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