Mary Graham

Mary Graham is co-director, Transparency Policy Project, Harvard University (



Recent Articles

Why States Can Do More

It used to be that leaving states to their own devices meant rampant pollution, as each state relaxed regulation standards to attract business. No longer.

W hen Congress laid the foundation for today's environmental regulation in the 1970s, it was an article of faith that states inevitably cut corners in conservation and pollution control in order to attract business. Only the federal government, the argument went, had the political clout and national reach to prevent a state "race to the bottom." Seemingly, there is new support for this view. Not long ago, the press carried lurid reports of hog wastes washing down Virginia's Pagan River toward the Chesapeake Bay. The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) sued Smithfield Foods, Inc., the East Coast's largest producer of pork products, accusing Virginia Governor George Allen of lax enforcement of national water pollution laws. The state's failure "could create 'pollution havens' " and "lead to a shift of manufacturing and jobs that would penalize the conscientious states," the New York Times editorialized. But "race to the bottom" is far too simplistic a notion to describe state...